An investigation of the behavioral mechanisms of antipsychotic action using a drug-drug conditioning paradigm

Ming Li, Wei He, Alexa Mead

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Antipsychotic drugs at noncataleptic doses selectively suppress conditioned avoidance response in rats. In our previous study, we had used a two-way active avoidance response paradigm to show that the antipsychotic-induced interoceptive state is one of the mechanisms underlying the avoidance-disruptive effect of antipsychotics. In this study, we sought to further examine this mechanism using a novel drug-drug conditioning procedure. We made use of the fact that both the typical neuroleptic haloperidol and the atypical neuroleptic olanzapine disrupt conditioned avoidance responding, whereas chlordiazepoxide (an anxiolytic) does not. We reasoned that if the antipsychotic interoceptive state is important in causing a disruption on avoidance responding (an index of antipsychotic efficacy), pairing chlordiazepoxide (a cueing drug conditional stimulus) with haloperidol or olanzapine (a cued drug unconditional stimulus) should engender chlordiazepoxide to exhibit this property and behave like an antipsychotic drug. Chlordiazepoxide exhibited an acquired antipsychotic-like property in disrupting avoidance responding after being repeatedly paired with haloperidol, but not with olanzapine. In contrast, it significantly attenuated the antiavoidance efficacy of olanzapine but not haloperidol after being repeatedly paired with these drugs. This study suggests that the haloperidol-induced interoceptive drug state is directly involved in its antiavoidance action, and chlordiazepoxide may attenuate the antiavoidance efficacy of antipsychotics (especially olanzapine). To the extent that the antiavoidance effect predicts clinical effects of antipsychotic treatment, this study suggests that the antipsychotic-induced interoceptive drug state may be an important behavioral mechanism mediating the clinical effects of antipsychotic treatments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-194
Number of pages11
JournalBehavioural pharmacology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Antipsychotic drugs
  • Chlordiazepoxide
  • Conditioned avoidance response
  • Drug?drug conditioning
  • Polypharmacy
  • Psychotherapeutic drug?drug interaction
  • Rat
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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