Stress and genotype elicit changes in impulse control in a range of species that are attributable to adaptations in both the central and peripheral nervous system. We examined aspects of this mechanism in the horse by assessing the effect of a dopamine receptor genotype (DRD4) and central dopaminergic tone (measured via spontaneous blink rate [SBR] and behavioral initiation rate [BIR]), on measures of impulsivity, compulsivity (3-choice serial reaction time task) and sympathetic/ parasympathetic system balance (heart rate variability [HRV]). Genotype did not have a significant effect on any of the parameters measured. SBR but not BIR correlated significantly with levels of impulsivity. There was no clear association of HRV parameters with either measures of central dopaminergic activity or impulsivity/compulsivity. Overall, some elements of the data suggest that the horse may be a useful animal model for assessing the genetic and environmental factors that lead to the physiological and behavioral phenotype of human addiction, particularly when considering the relationship between central dopaminergic tone and impulsivity.
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Physiology and Behavior|
|Early online date||06 Jul 2022|
|Publication status||Published - 01 Oct 2022|