Microinjections of carbachol, a muscarinic cholinergic receptor agonist, into the anterior substantia nigra increase feeding, drinking and sexual behaviour if there is a pre-existing tendency to respond and a low baseline rate of behaviour. The present experiment was undertaken to compare the effects of carbachol with other cholinergic stimulants. Groups of 6-12 satiated rats received 0.5 μl microinjections into the anterior substantia nigra of 0.1-5.0 μg carbachol, 0.1-5.0 μg nicotine, 2.5-10.0 μg eserine, and 1.25-5.0 μg or 0.1-1.0 μg neostigmine (each dissolved in sterile saline) and the effects on feeding, drinking, locomotion, grooming, rearing and sniffing were examined. Carbachol, nicotine and low doses of neostigmine stimulated eating in a dose-dependent manner. The increased feeding following neostigmine was over a shorter time-period than following carbachol or nicotine. Neither carbachol nor nicotine had any significant effect on behaviour other than eating. The higher doses of neostigmine increased the frequency of sniffing and rearing, but not eating, and no dose of eserine had a clear effect on behaviour. These data are discussed in terms of their relationship to the cholinergic input to substantia nigra which excites pars compacta dopamine-containing neurones.
- substantia nigra