The present study examined the effects of dopamine D1 and D2 receptor agonists on the acquisition stage of passive avoidance learning and on locomotor activity in mice. The D2 agonist, RU 24213 (1-10 mg/kg s.c.), and the non-selective agonist, apomorphine (0.3-3 mg/kg s.c.), but not the D1 agonist, SKF 38393 (1-10 mg/kg s.c.), impaired learning and activated locomotion. RU 24213 (1 mg/kg s.c.) was more effective in impairing learning than in activating locomotion. The concurrent administration of SKF 38393 (10 mg/kg i.p.) and RU 24213 (1 and 3 mg/kg s.c.) produced a synergistic effect in both behavioral situations. The D1 antagonist, SCH 23390 (0.025 mg/kg i.p.), slightly inhibited the effects of apomorphine and of the combination of SKF 38393 and RU 24213 on learning but not on locomotion. The D2 antagonist, (-)-sulpiride (40 mg/kg i.p.), completely blocked these effects in both situations. These results suggest that dopamine receptor agonists impair passive avoidance learning through the D2 receptor, and that D1 and D2 receptors act synergistically in this impairment, as they do in their effects on locomotion. The involvement of D1 and D2 receptors is qualitatively similar in each of these behaviors, although some small differences may exist.
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