Relation between motor asymmetry and direction of rotational behaviour under amphetamine and apomorphine in rats with unilateral degeneration of the nigrostriatal dopamine system
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The study examines whether in rats with unilateral 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) lesions of the substantia nigra, the direction of amphetamine- and apomorphine-induced rotations is determined by a bias to step more frequently with one hindleg. Results show that there is a strong asymmetry in usage of hindlegs under apomorphine but a weak one under amphetamine. Moreover, under apomorphine, virtually all steps are backward. Under amphetamine, however, steps are directed both backward and forward, although backward steps are relatively more prevalent when striatal dopamine depletion is nearly total. The different styles of rotation reflect the activation of pure turning under apomorphine, and turning combined with forward progression under amphetamine. It is suggested that presence of forward progression during turning depends on the capacity to modulate striatal activation. Moreover, the different styles of rotation are inconsistent with the hypothesis that a bias in leg usage sets the direction of turning. Instead, it seems that unilateral striatal activation sets the directionality of turning, independent of any hindlimb motor asymmetries.