Raclopride-induced motor consolidation impairment in primates: role of the dopamine type-2 receptor in movement chunking into integrated sequences

Exp Brain Res. 2007 Oct;182(4):499-508. doi: 10.1007/s00221-007-1010-4. Epub 2007 Jul 26.


Results obtained in patients with schizophrenia have shown that antipsychotic drugs may induce motor learning deficits correlated with the striatal type-2 dopamine receptors (D(2)R) occupancy. Other findings suggest that the role of the striatum in motor learning could be related to a process of "chunking" discrete movements into motor sequences. We therefore hypothesized that a D(2)R blocking substance, such as raclopride, would affect motor learning by specifically disrupting the grouping of movements into sequences. Two monkeys were first trained to perform a baseline-overlearned sequence (Seq. A) drug free. Then, a new sequence was learned (Seq. B) and the overlearned sequence was recalled OFF-drug (Seq. A recall OFF-drug). The effect of raclopride was then assessed on the learning of a third sequence (Seq. C), and on the recall of the overlearned sequence (Seq. A recall ON-drug). Results showed that performance related to the overlearned sequence remained the same in the three experimental conditions (Seq. A, Seq. A recall OFF-drug, Seq. A recall ON-drug), whether the primates received raclopride or not. On the other hand, new sequence learning was significantly affected during raclopride treatment (Seq. C), when compared with new sequence learning without the effect of any drug (Seq. B). Raclopride-induced disturbances consisted in performance fluctuations, which persisted even after many days of trials, and prevented the monkeys from reaching a stable level of performance. Further analyses also showed that these fluctuations appeared to be related to monkeys' inability to group movements into single flowing motor sequences. The results of our study suggest that dopamine is involved in the stabilization or consolidation of motor performances, and that this function would involve a chunking of movements into well-integrated sequences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Cebus
  • Dopamine Antagonists / adverse effects*
  • Memory Disorders / chemically induced*
  • Mental Recall / drug effects
  • Movement / drug effects*
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects
  • Raclopride / adverse effects*
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / physiology*
  • Serial Learning / drug effects*


  • Dopamine Antagonists
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • Raclopride