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Anxiety. 1996;2(4):186-91.

Primate displacement activities as an ethopharmacological model of anxiety.

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Dipartimento di Genetica e Biologia Molecolare, Università di Roma La Sapienza, Italy.


Using a within-subject cross-over, vehicle-controlled design, we investigated the acute effects of benzodiazepine receptor ligands with different mechanisms of action on the displacement activities (scratching, self-grooming, and body shake) of seven male macaques living in social groups. Our aim was to test the discriminative validity of displacement activities as an ethopharmacological model of anxiety. Subjects were given i.m. lorazepam (0.10, 0.20, 0.25 mg/ kg) and FG 7142 (0.1, 0.3, 1.0 mg/kg). The frequency of displacement activities was decreased by the anxiolytic lorazepam and increased by the anxiogenic FG 7142 in a dose-dependent manner. Displacement activities were apparently more sensitive to anxiolytic treatment than other behavior patterns indicative of an anxiety state (i.e., visual scanning of the social environment and fear responses directed to dominant males). These results suggest that primate displacement activities are a valid ethopharmacological model of anxiety.

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