Effects of rating parameters on assessment of neuroleptic-induced vacuous chewing movements

Michael F. Egan, Jennifer Ferguson, Thomas M. Hyde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Long-term administration of neuroleptics to rats produces a syndrome of vacuous chewing movements (VCMs).The validity of the VCM syndrome as a model for tardive dyskinesia (TD) in humans is unclear. This is due, in part, to inconsistencies between studies. Methods for rating VCMs have varied markedly and could account for the inconsistencies. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the importance of the different methods on VCM scores. The effects of habituation and length of rating sessions were examined in rats habituated for 2 min, 1 h, or several hours over 4 days, compared to unhabituated rats. Ratings with and without habituation were highly correlated, as were ratings from 2- and 5-min observation periods. Ratings from neuroleptic-treated rats in restraining tubes, however, were significantly correlated with unrestrained ratings only following several hours of habituation. Locomotor activity was not correlated with VCM scores. These results suggest that habituation to open cages is not an important factor in assessing VCMs. Use of restraining tubes, however, may alter scores. The lack of an habituation effect or of a relationship between activity and VCMs suggests that locomotor and oral behaviors are not necessarily in competition. Restraining rats to rate VCMs does not appear to be necessary and could alter the neurobiology of VCMs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)401-410
Number of pages10
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • habituation
  • haloperidol
  • vacuous chewing movements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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