Dopaminergic modulation of visual responses in toads. I. Apomorphine-induced effects on visually directed appetitive and consummatory prey-catching behavior

J Comp Physiol A. 1997 Jan;180(1):1-9. doi: 10.1007/s003590050021.


This study confirms for a phylogenetically basal terrestrial vertebrate that dopaminergic modulations interfere with the visually directed appetitive and consummatory feeding behaviors orienting and snapping, respectively. (1) In common toads Bufo bufo, intralymphatic administration of the dopamine D2/D1-receptor agonist apomorphine led to a dose-dependent facilitation of prey-snapping in response to moving objects. The snapping activity reached a maximum 15-35 min after apomorphine injection. (2) To changes in configurational stimulus features, the basic pattern of discrimination was maintained; however, the acuity of discrimination was reduced due to the high snapping response level. (3) The apomorphine-induced facilitation of snapping was accompanied by a suppression of prey-oriented lunging and turning. Toads snapped only if prey occurred frontally in the visual field at a relatively short distance. The snapping behavior was fixed in its form and stereotyped regarding its immediate release. (4) About 90 min after apomorphine administration, prey-oriented turning behavior was restored and displayed a facilitatory rebound. (5) In comparative experiments with the species B. marinus, both prey-oriented turning and snapping responses were suppressed by apomorphine in a dose-dependent manner. (6) After pre-treatment with the dopamine antagonist haloperidol, apomorphine showed no measurable effect on the visual release of prey orienting or snapping. (7) The results contribute to the sensorimotor and the motivation hypothesis of dopamine function proposed for higher vertebrates and stimulate a comparative discussion of anatomic homologies and functional analogies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apomorphine / pharmacology*
  • Appetitive Behavior / drug effects*
  • Bufo bufo
  • Consummatory Behavior / drug effects*
  • Discrimination, Psychological / drug effects
  • Dopamine / physiology*
  • Dopamine Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Motion Perception / drug effects
  • Predatory Behavior / drug effects*
  • Stimulation, Chemical
  • Time Factors
  • Vision, Ocular / drug effects
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology*


  • Dopamine Agonists
  • Apomorphine
  • Dopamine