Four-day-old Vantress x Arbor Acre chicks were tested for key-peck passive avoidance (PA) learning following intraperitoneal injections of parachlorophenylalanine (PCPA) and/or scopolamine. In Experiment 1, chicks were pre-treated with either three or five injections of PCPA (150 mg/kg) or saline across the first three posthatch days and then tested for PA learning on the fourth posthatch day. In Experiment 2, chicks were first pre-treated with three injections of PCPA (150 mg/kg) or saline, and then injected with either scopolamine (0.5 mg/kg) or saline 20 rain prior to PA testing on the fourth posthatch day. Major findings were: (a) Chicks pre-treated with PCPA did not significantly differ from saline control chicks in either the acquisition or maintenance of response suppression during PA testing; (b) chicks injected with scopolamine were significantly disrupted in PA learning as compared to saline control chicks; and (c) PCPA pre-treatment did not significantly affect the scopolamine-induced disruption of PA learning. These findings, therefore, suggest that cholinergic, but not serotonergic, mechanisms are involved in PA learning of the young chick.
Pharmacology Biochemistry & Behavior, Vol. 14, No. 5, May 1981, pp. 669-676.