The effect of systemic d-amphetamine on motor versus motivational processes in the rat

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This study examined the effects of systemic amphetamine in rats performing a reaction time task in which motivation and motor readiness were independently varied. Visual cues indicated the number of trials (one, two or three) needed before reinforcement was made available (i.e., reward cost). Lower reward cost was reflected in both a greater proportion of correctly completed trials and faster reaction times. Reaction times were also shorter as a function of increasing time from start of trial to the onset of the imperative stimulus (foreperiod), reflecting motor readiness or temporal probability summation. It was found that increasing dose of amphetamine resulted in faster reaction times, but the manner in which reaction time was speeded more closely resembled that of motor readiness than it did the speeding due to increasing motivation. Furthermore, the effects on performance of amphetamine and motivational condition were found to be entirely independent: there was no evidence to suggest that amphetamine enhanced, or disrupted, the expectation of forthcoming work or the response vigor which this engenders. It is concluded that systemic amphetamine does not act simply to amplify a natural reward signal. By contrast, amphetamine was found to enhance the effect of foreperiod, suggestive of a mechanism for the psychomotor stimulating effects of amphetamine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-180
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1996


  • dopamine
  • psychomotor stimulant
  • striatum
  • incentive motivation
  • reinforcement
  • TIME
  • TASK


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