Differential behavioral effects of lesions of the medial or dorsal raphe nuclei in rats: Open field and pain-elicited aggression

Barry L. Jacobs, Alice Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations


Electrolytic lesions were placed in either the dorsal or median raphe nuclei of 32 male adult Sprague-Dawley rats. Both lesions produced significant reductions in forebrain serotonin levels. Lesions of the dorsal nucleus produced a long-lasting increase in pain-elicited aggression, whereas median lesions were without effect. By contrast, lesions of the median nucleus produced significant increases in open-field activity, which began immediately and lasted for at least 3 mo, whereas lesions of the dorsal nucleus had no such effect. Similarly, when 22 Ss with dorsal or sham lesions were tested in an open field and then given a brief noncontingent footshock, their open-field activity was markedly reduced on the following day. Median Ss, however, showed little or no decrease in open-field activity on the day after footshock. Results suggest that the serotonin-containing neurons of the median raphe nucleus may exert an influence over the emotional responsivity of the rat. Overall results extend previous reports that lesions specific to the dorsal nucleus produce markedly different behavioral effects than lesions confined to the median nucleus. They also challenge the utility of manipulations that fail to take this into account. (20 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)102-108
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1976

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


  • dorsal vs median raphe nuclei lesions, open field behaviors &
  • pain-elicited aggression, male rats


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