Phase Shifts

In this method, rates of response are determined at various intensities of stimulation. Data are usu ally presented as rate-intensity (rate-frequency) functions. If a drug shifts the rate-intensity function to the left, it is interpreted as an increase in sensitivity of the animal to the rewarding stimulation. A shift to the right is interpreted as a decrease in sensitivity. Threshold (sometimes called locus of rise) is defined as the intensity that yields half the maximum rate of response for the animal. If the maximum rate becomes asymptotic at approximately the same stimulus intensity as observed after saline, it is assumed that any phase shift is a direct effect of the drug on the reward value of the stimulation, not the result of a nonspecific motor effect of the drug.

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