The analysis of licking microstructure provides measures, size and number of licking bouts, which might reveal, respectively, reward evaluation and behavioural activation. Based on the different effects of the dopamine D1-like and D2-like receptor antagonists SCH 23390 and raclopride on licking for sucrose, in particular the failure of the former to reduce bout size and the ability of the latter to induce a within-session decrement of bout number resembling either reward devaluation or neuroleptics on instrumental responding, we suggested that activation of reward-associated responses depends on dopamine D1-like receptor stimulation, and its level is updated on the basis of a dopamine D2-like receptor-mediated reward evaluation. Consistent results were obtained in a study examining the effect of dopamine D2-like receptor antagonism in rats licking for NaCl solutions and water. In this study, we examined the effects of the dopamine D1-like receptor antagonist SCH 23390 (0, 10, 20 and 40 μg/kg) on the microstructure of licking for water and sodium chloride solutions (0.075 M, 0.15 M, 0.3 M) in 12 h water deprived rats. Rats were exposed to each solution for 60 s either after the first lick or after 3 min that the animals were placed in the chambers. Bout size, but not bout number, was decreased at the highest NaCl concentration. SCH 23390 produced a decrease of bout number and of lick number mainly due to the decreased number of subjects engaging in licking behaviour, and failed to reduce bout size for Na Cl and water at a dose which increased the latency to the 1st lick but did not affect the intra-bout lick rate. In agreement with previous observations, these results suggest that dopamine D1-like receptors play an important role in the activation of reward-oriented responses
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