The past few years have seen the development and widespread administration of tranquilizing drugs. They are given over long periods of time, usually to reduce anxiety. When considering the laboratory procedures designed to measure anxiety, usually minor variations on the conditioned-avoidance procedures have been employed, procedures which involve the application of a warning signal and a noxious stimulus. Allegedly, fear or anxiety is created when the warning stimulus elicits an overt response, such as jumping over a barrier, or disrupts a repetitive response, such as pressing a lever. When the warning signal fails to elicit the behavioral alteration after injection of the tranquilizer, one tends to think the drug has reduced the fear or anxiety.
Even barring sensory or motor incapacitation, other factors might well be involved. One postulates particularly the more intellective abilities and broad motivational factors. Whatever the virtue of the avoidance task for testing drug effects, it
RIOPELLE AJ, PFEIFFER CC. Effects of Acute and Chronic Administration of Reserpine on Test Performance. AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1958;79(3):352–358. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1958.02340030116019
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