Rate-dependent effects of drugs: a review of the literature

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1976 Jan;4(1):73-83. doi: 10.1016/0091-3057(76)90178-7.


It has been claimed that the effects of amphetamines on schedule-controlled behavior depend to a large extent on the rate of responding in control conditions. A review of the literature shows that there is considerable support for this hypothesis if the behavior is not suppressed by aversive procedures, is not under the control of powerful external stimuli or is not occurring very infrequently. The extension of a rate-dependency hypothesis to the effects of other drugs has less empirical support, however. It is argued that many of the procedures used for studying rate-dependent drug effects do not provide critical tests of the hypothesis. If it is to be shown unequivocally that it is rate of operant responding which determines the behavioral effects of drugs, procedures are needed in which other varibles such as reinforcement frequency are more adequately controlled.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amphetamines / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / pharmacology
  • Barbiturates / pharmacology
  • Columbidae
  • Conditioning, Operant / drug effects*
  • Electroshock
  • Haplorhini
  • Psychotropic Drugs / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Reinforcement Schedule*


  • Amphetamines
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Barbiturates
  • Psychotropic Drugs