Methylphenidate is widely used as a treatment option for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In animal models of attentional impairment, it is an important validation to determine whether this clinically effective treatment attenuates deficits. The purpose of the current study was to determine whether methylphenidate can diminish attentional impairment induced by three pharmacological agents with different mechanisms of action: scopolamine, mecamylamine, and dizocilpine. Female rats were trained on an operant visual signal detection task. Ten min before the test, the rats were injected subcutaneously with methylphenidate (0, 0.1, 0.3 mg/kg), scopolamine (0, 0.005, 0.01 mg/kg), mecamylamine (0, 2, 4 mg/kg), dizocilpine (0, 0.025, 0.05 mg/kg) or combinations of methylphenidate with these drugs. In each of the experiments, all rats received every treatment in a repeated measures counterbalanced order. Correction rejection accuracy was impaired by all three of the antagonists and these effects were attenuated by methylphenidate. Both scopolamine at 0.01 and dizocilpine at 0.05 mg/kg significantly impaired percent correct rejection choice accuracy, an effect that was ameliorated by methylphenidate. Mecamylamine (4 mg/kg) impaired attentional performance by reducing percent hit and percent correct rejection. Co-administration of methylphenidate failed to significantly affect the mecamylamine-induced attentional impairment. Methylphenidate alone at 0.3 mg/kg significantly improved percent hit choice accuracy only in low-performing rats in one experiment, an effect which was reversed by scopolamine. These data show that methylphenidate effectively reverses the attentional impairment caused by scopolamine and dizocilpine. These findings further validate the operant visual signal detection task for assessing attentional impairments and their reversal.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Schizophrenia patients suffer from cognitive impairments that are not satisfactorily treated by currently available medications. Cognitive dysfunction in schizophrenia encompasses deficits in several cognitive modalities that can be differentially responsive to different medications and are likely to be mediated by different neurobiological substrates. Translational animal models of cognitive deficits with relevance to schizophrenia are critical for gaining insights into the mechanisms underlying these impairments and developing more effective treatments. The five-choice serial reaction time task (5-CSRTT) is a cognitive task used in rodents that allows simultaneous assessment of several cognitive modalities, including attention, response inhibition, cognitive flexibility, and processing speed. Administration of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) glutamate receptor antagonists disrupts multiple 5-CSRTT performance measures in a way that mirrors various cognitive deficits exhibited by schizophrenia patients. Some of these disruptions are partially attenuated by antipsychotic medications that exhibit partial effectiveness on cognitive dysfunction in schizophrenia, suggesting that the model has predictive validity. Examination of the effects of pharmacological manipulations on 5-CSRTT performance disruptions induced by NMDA antagonists have implicated a range of brain regions, neurotransmitter systems, and specific receptor subtypes in schizophrenia-like impairment of different cognitive modalities. Thus, disruption of 5-CSRTT performance by NMDA antagonists represents a valuable tool for exploring the neurobiological bases of cognitive dysfunction in schizophrenia.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Attention can be readily measured in experimental animal models. Animal models of attention have been used to better understand the neural systems involved in attention, how attention is impaired, and how therapeutic treatments can ameliorate attentional deficits. This review focuses on the ways in which animal models are used to better understand the neuronal mechanism of attention and how to develop new therapeutic treatments for attentional impairment. Several behavioral test methods have been developed for experimental animal studies of attention, including a 5-choice serial reaction time task (5-CSRTT), a signal detection task (SDT), and a novel object recognition (NOR) test. These tasks can be used together with genetic, lesion, pharmacological and behavioral models of attentional impairment to test the efficacy of novel therapeutic treatments. The most prominent genetic model is the spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR). Well-characterized lesion models include frontal cortical or hippocampal lesions. Pharmacological models include challenge with the NMDA glutamate antagonist dizocilpine (MK-801), the nicotinic cholinergic antagonist mecamylamine and the muscarinic cholinergic antagonist scopolamine. Behavioral models include distracting stimuli and attenuated target stimuli. Important validation of these behavioral tests and models of attentional impairments for developing effective treatments for attentional dysfunction is the fact that stimulant treatments effective for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), such as methylphenidate (Ritalin®), are effective in the experimental animal models. Newer lines of treatment including nicotinic agonists, α4β2 nicotinic receptor desensitizers, and histamine H₃ antagonists, have also been found to be effective in improving attention in these animal models. Good carryover has also been seen for the attentional improvement caused by nicotine in experimental animal models and in human populations. Animal models of attention can be effectively used for the development of new treatments of attentional impairment in ADHD and other syndromes in which have attentional impairments occur, such as Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The cholinergic system is known to be necessary for normal attentional processing. However, the receptors and mechanisms mediating the effects of acetylcholine on attention remain unclear. Previous work in our laboratory suggested that cholinergic muscarinic receptors are critical for maintaining performance in an attention-demanding task in rats. We examined the role of the muscarinic M(1) receptor and protein kinase C (PKC), which is activated by the M(1) receptor, in attention task performance. Rats were trained in an attention-demanding task requiring discrimination of brief (500, 100, 25 ms) visual signals from trials with no signal presentation. The effects of muscarinic M(1) receptor blockade were assessed by administering dicyclomine (0-5.0 mg/kg). The effects of PKC inhibition were assessed by administering chelerythrine chloride (0-2.0 mg/kg). Dicyclomine decreased the accuracy of detecting longer signals in this attention task, including when attentional demands were increased by flashing a houselight throughout the session. Chelerythrine chloride decreased the accuracy of signal detection in the standard version of the task but not when the houselight was flashed throughout the session. The present findings indicate that muscarinic M(1) receptors are critical for maintaining performance when attentional demands are increased, and that PKC activity may contribute to some aspects of attentional performance.
Journal of Psychopharmacology 09/2011; 26(8):1143-50. DOI:10.1177/0269881111415732 · 3.59 Impact Factor
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