The relationship between stimulus intensity and analgesic effectiveness of morphine was investigated by means of an operant technique. Various doses of morphine were tested in rats trained to press a bar to escape from shocks of varying intensity. Under control conditions a good linear relationship between the log of the stimulus intensity and the log of the speed to press the lever was found. Morphine showed inhibitory effects upon this escape behavior, which were greater at any given dose with greater intensity of the shock. These effects were dose related, that is, the slopes of the shock-response lines decreased by increasing the dose. The data obtained do not appear to be a consequence of a general depressant effect of the drug upon behavior and are in line with several experimental observations showing that in animals, as well as in humans, the magnitude of the analgesic effect of morphine tends to increase as pain severity increases. © 1979.
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