The effects of anxiolytic drugs on novelty-induced place preference

Jennifer E. Klebaur, Michael T. Bardo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Previous evidence has shown that rats exposed to a place preference apparatus prefer the novel compartment over the familiar. While this suggests that novelty is rewarding, an alternative interpretation is that rats avoid the familiar compartment because it is associated with some stress-related aversive event induced during the inescapable exposure sessions. To test this latter possibility, the benzodiazepine anxiolytic diazepam (0.1, 0.3, 1.0, 3.0 mg/kg) and the nonbenzodiazepine anxiolytic gepirone (0.1, 0.3, 1.0 mg/kg) were examined for their ability to alter novelty-induced place preference in rats. As expected, control animals showed a novelty-induced place preference. On the test day, this preference was disrupted by diazepam, but only at a dose (3 mg/kg) that also decreased locomotor activity. Gepirone failed to alter the preference behavior, even at a dose (1 mg/kg) that decreased locomotor behavior. In another experiment, rats spent more time in a familiar compartment that contained a novel object than in a familiar compartment with no object. These experiments indicate that preference for the novel compartment may reflect the rewarding effect of novelty rather than aversion to the familiar.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-57
Number of pages7
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1999

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by USPHS grant DA 05312 to MTB. JEK was supported by a Kentucky Research Challenge Trust Fellowship while preparing this report for publication. The authors would like to thank Dennis Miller for his assistance in conducting these experiments. We would also like to thank Thomas Kelly for his comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.

Copyright 2007 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Diazepam
  • Gepirone
  • Novelty
  • Place-preference

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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