The effects of mildly painful electric shock in facilitating copulatory responses of male rats is well established. It is also well established that the intensity of some spinal reflexes such as the flexion reflex can be enhanced by electric shock. This study examined the effects of the electrical shock on the spinal timing mechanism governing the occurrence of penile reflexes. Intermittent electric shock applied to the flank region of spinal male rats reduced the intervals between the clusters of penile reflexes about 30%. Interestingly, this is approximately the same magnitude by which flank shock facilitates sexual responding in spinally intact animals. The type of reflex plasticity revealed by the shock treatment of spinal rats is different than that reported previously in experiments on reflex sensitization.
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