Individual differences in locomotor activity and sensitization

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1991 Feb;38(2):467-70. doi: 10.1016/0091-3057(91)90308-o.


Male rats were screened for locomotor activity in a novel environment and divided into high (HR) and low (LR) responders based on whether their locomotor activity score for the first hour was above or below the median locomotor activity for the subject sample. Subsequently, the locomotor response to repeated administration of either amphetamine (AMPH; 0.5 mg/kg), cocaine (10 mg/kg), scopolamine (0.5 mg/kg) or saline was monitored in separate groups of HR and LR rats. HR rats had significantly higher overall activity scores than LR rats for all 3 drugs. Both HR and LR rats developed tolerance at the same rate to repeated scopolamine administration. In contrast, only HR rats showed pronounced sensitization to the locomotor stimulating properties of AMPH and a direct correlation was evident between the locomotor response to novelty and the magnitude of sensitization. These results suggest that an individual's response to a novel environment can, to a certain extent, predict drug-induced locomotor activity and that individual differences in the response to novelty and sensitization to AMPH may result from individual variations in a common neural mechanism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amphetamine / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Cocaine / pharmacology
  • Drug Tolerance
  • Individuality*
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / drug effects*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Scopolamine / pharmacology
  • Stereotyped Behavior / drug effects


  • Amphetamine
  • Scopolamine
  • Cocaine