Title of Chapter/Section

The Discriminative Stimulus Properties of Drugs Used to Treat Depression and Anxiety

Title of Book

The Behavioural Neuroscience of Drug Discrimination

Editor(s) of Book

Joseph H. Porter, Adam J. Prus


Psychological Sciences

Document Type

Book Section/Chapter

Place of Publication

Cham, Switzerland


Springer International Publishing AG

Year of Publication


Series (if applicable)

Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences

Page Range



Drug discrimination is a powerful tool for evaluating the stimulus effects of psychoactive drugs and for linking these effects to pharmacological mechanisms. This chapter reviews the primary findings from drug discrimination studies of antidepressant and anxiolytic drugs, including novel pharmacological mechanisms. The stimulus properties revealed from these animal studies largely correspond to the receptor affinities of antidepressant and anxiolytic drugs, indicating that subjective effects may correspond to either therapeutic or side effects of these medications. We discuss drug discrimination findings concerning adjunctive medications and novel pharmacologic strategies in antidepressant and anxiolytic research. Future directions for drug discrimination work include an urgent need to explore the subjective effects of medications in animal models, to better understand shifts in stimulus sensitivity during prolonged treatments, and to further characterize stimulus effects in female subjects. We conclude that drug discrimination is an informative preclinical procedure that reveals the interoceptive effects of pharmacological mechanisms as they relate to behaviors that are not captured in other preclinical models.