Sleep deprivation in rats produces attentional impairments on a 5-choice serial reaction time task

Department of Cognitive Science, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Dr. La Jolla, CA 92053-0515, USA.
Sleep (Impact Factor: 4.59). 02/2006; 29(1):69-76.
Source: PubMed


To develop a rodent model of the attentional dysfunction caused by sleep loss.
The attentional performance of rats was assessed after 4, 7, and 10 hours of total sleep deprivation on a 5-choice serial reaction time task, in which rats detect and respond to brief visual stimuli.
The rats were housed, sleep deprived, and behaviorally tested in a controlled laboratory setting.
Ten male Long-Evans rats were used in the study.
Rats were trained to criteria and subsequently tested in daily sessions of 100 trials at approximately 4:00 PM (lights on 8:00 AM-8:00 PM). Attentional performance was measured after 4, 7, 10 hours of total sleep deprivation induced by gentle handling.
Sleep deprivation produced a monotonic increase in response latencies across the 4-hour, 7-hour, and 10-hour deprivations. Sleep deprivation also led to increased omission errors, but the overall number of perseverative and premature responses was unchanged. Subgroups of rats were differentially affected in the number of omission errors and perseverative responses.
The effects of sleep deprivation on rats are compatible with a range of human findings on the effects of sleepiness on selective attention, psychomotor vigilance, and behavioral control. Rats also exhibited differential susceptibility to the effects of sleep deprivation, consistent with 'trait-like' susceptibility that has been found in humans. These findings indicate the feasibility of using the 5-choice serial reaction time task as an animal model for investigating the direct links between homeostatic sleep mechanisms and resulting attentional impairments within a single animal subject.

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    • "Gentle handling method, which consist continuous visual observation and gentle handling, using sensory (auditory and tactile) stimulation , is a well established method for inducing SD (Córdova et al., 2006; Franken et al., 1993). The procedure used in this study is an automated version of sensory stimulation. "
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