Morphine and GABA: effects on perception, escape response and long-term habituation to a danger stimulus in the crab Chasmagnathus

Brain Res Bull. 1991 May;26(5):699-706. doi: 10.1016/0361-9230(91)90163-e.


Prior results (37) showed that morphine pretreatment reduces the escape response of the crab Chasmagnathus to a shadow passing overhead and prevents the acquisition of a long-term habituation. These results were explained by a reduction in the danger signalled by the stimulus, and to test this hypothesis methods other than morphine injection were used herein to abolish response during training. GABA pretreatment induced a dose-dependent reduction in responsiveness to the danger stimulus, and instances of autotomy were shown with doses larger than 12 micrograms/g. A response was rarely displayed with a 9 micrograms GABA/g dose given 5 min before training, but long-term memory was acquired. In one experiment, both morphine and GABA pretreatment produced similar mild response inhibition during training, but morphine, not GABA impaired long-term habituation. Morphine administered immediately after training had no amnesic effect. These results support the hypothesis that morphine effects may be explained by transient disruption between the stimulus and its danger meaning, ruling out alternative explanations such as response inhibition or amnesia due to either storage or retrieval failure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brachyura / drug effects*
  • Escape Reaction / drug effects
  • Habituation, Psychophysiologic / drug effects
  • Injections
  • Male
  • Morphine / pharmacology*
  • Perception / drug effects
  • Pilot Projects
  • Time Factors
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / pharmacology*


  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Morphine