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Effects of α-MSH and β-endorphin on startle reflex in rat


Twelve rats received peripheral injections (20 micrograms/rat) of alpha-MSH, beta-endorphin or the vehicle solution and were subsequently tested for the motor and cardiac responses to repeated presentations of intense acoustic stimuli. Each subject received all treatments in a counterbalanced order with 3-day periods between each session. beta-Endorphin tended to decrease the amplitude of the habituated motor startle reflex, while alpha-MSH produced a slight increase in basal heart rate during the habituation session. Neither peptide had any effect on the cardiac response to intense acoustic stimulation. The effects of the two peptides were not directly antagonistic but they are consistent with the hypothesis that complex attentional processes were facilitated by MSH/ACTH fragments and inhibited by the endorphins.

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