Date of Award

Spring 1979

Document Type



Life & Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

James Manion

Second Advisor

Jean Smith

Third Advisor

Tom Carlin


In previous research it was shown that diazepam, a benzodiazepine derivative, alone or with amphetamine, facilitated shuttle-box avoidance behavior in naive, male mice (Sansone 1975). Other research showed that high doses of diazepam (30 mg/kg) produced a significant decrement in response rate in rats trained on a fixed ratio schedule of lever pressing for food reward (Edmonds, Stack, and Albertson 1975). The purpose of the present research was to show that the systemic administration of diazepam would effect the acquisition of an escape behavior in helpless and naive rats. The data indicated that diazepam significantly facilitated escape behavior in helpless rats but not naive rats. The experiment was conducted in two parts. In part 1 two groups of rats were made helpless, helplessness defined as 15 inescapable shocks of 15 second duration with an extinction of escape behavior. After the animals were helpless, one group received diazepam the other saline and then the learning trials of escape behavior began. In part 2 two groups of rats were not given inescapable shock, but one group was given diazepam the other saline and then each group was given the same type of learning trials of escape behavior as the groups in part 1.