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Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2013 Nov;230(1):37-48. doi: 10.1007/s00213-013-3134-5. Epub 2013 May 18.

The role of the cholinergic system in the signal attenuation rat model of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

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School of Psychological Sciences, Tel Aviv University, Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv, 69978, Israel.

Erratum in

  • Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2013 Dec;230(3):507. Roni, Yankelevitch-Yahav [corrected to Yankelevitch-Yahav, Roni]; Daphna, Joel [corrected to Joel, Dapha].



In comparison to studies of the involvement of the serotonergic, dopaminergic, and glutamatergic systems in the pathophysiology of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), research on the involvement of the cholinergic system in this disorder has remained sparse.


The aim of this study was to test the role of the cholinergic system in compulsive behavior using the signal attenuation rat model of OCD. In this model, "compulsive" behavior is induced by attenuating a signal indicating that a lever-press response was effective in producing food.


The acetylcholinesterase inhibitor physostigmine (0.05, 0.10, and 0.15 mg/kg), the nicotinic agonist nicotine (0.03, 0.06, 0.10, 0.30, 0.60, and 1.00 mg/kg), the nicotinic antagonist mecamylamine (1, 3, 5, and 8 mg/kg), the muscarinic agonist oxotremorine (0.0075, 0.0150, and 0.0300 mg/kg), and the muscarinic antagonist scopolamine (0.15, 0.50, 1.00, and 1.50 mg/kg) were acutely administered to rats just before assessing their lever-press responding following signal attenuation (experiments 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9, respectively). Because the effects of signal attenuation are assessed under extinction conditions, drug doses that were effective in the above experiments were also tested in an extinction session of lever-press responding that was not preceded by signal attenuation (experiments 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10).


Acute systemic administration of the cholinergic agents did not exert a selective anti- or pro-compulsive effect in the signal attenuation model.


Acetylcholine does not seem to play a role in the signal attenuation rat model of OCD.

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