Effects of quinpirole on behavioral extinction

Physiol Behav. 2003 Oct;80(1):1-7. doi: 10.1016/s0031-9384(03)00218-x.


Behavioral effects of quinpirole (QNP), a dopamine D(2) receptor agonist, suggest it impacts neural mechanisms mediating goal-directed behaviors, as well as behavioral extinction following removal of a primary reinforcer. The present study investigated the effect of QNP on behavioral extinction following the omission of contingent reinforcement, and whether this effect is related to acquisition or processes specific to extinction. Rats were trained on a continuous reinforcement schedule to nose-poke for water reward. Using a free-operant procedure, rats completed approximately 70 responses for each of four consecutive days. On the fifth day reward was withheld. Rats were assigned to one of five groups in which they received 0.3 mg/kg QNP ip either during the first day (acquisition phase), the second 2 days (maintenance phase), the last day (extinction phase), or during all days. A fifth group received vehicle injections. Rats receiving QNP during the acquisition and maintenance phase did not differ significantly from the control group during the extinction phase, although they demonstrated reduced response rates on days they received QNP. However, rats treated during the extinction phase or during all phases demonstrated a significant reduction in the rate of extinction. This effect cannot be attributed to an increase in general behavioral arousal because response rates for reinforced responses did not differ significantly among groups following acquisition of the behavior. The reduced extinction effect does not appear to be related to abnormalities in the initial behavior-reward association, but instead may result from enhanced engagement of learned behavioral patterns, or from interference of signals associated with removal of predicted reinforcement.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Conditioning, Operant / drug effects
  • Dopamine Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Extinction, Psychological / drug effects*
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects
  • Quinpirole / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans


  • Dopamine Agonists
  • Quinpirole