Publications by authors named "Shawn M Aarde"

15 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Sex chromosome complement affects multiple aspects of reversal-learning task performance in mice.

Genes Brain Behav 2021 01 10;20(1):e12685. Epub 2020 Aug 10.

Department of Psychology, Binghamton University, Binghamton, New York, USA.

Determining the mechanisms by which the sex-chromosome complement (SCC) affects learning, attention, and impulsivity has implications for observed sex differences in prevalence, severity, and prognosis of psychiatric/neurodevelopmental disorders and syndromes associated with sex-chromosome aneuploidy. Here, Four Core Genotypes (FCG) mice were evaluated in order to assess the separable and/or interacting effects of gonads (testes vs. ovaries) and their secretions and/or SCC (XX vs. XY) acting via non-gonadal mechanisms on behavior. We tested FCG mice on a reversal-learning task that enables the quantification of aspects of learning, attention and impulsivity. Across testing phases (involving the initial acquisition of a spatial discrimination and subsequent reversal learning), overall error rate was larger in XY compared with XX mice. Although XX and XY groups did not differ in the total number of trials required in order to reach a preset performance criterion, analyses of reversal error types showed more perseverative errors in XY than XX mice, with no difference in regressive errors. Additionally, prepotent-response latencies during the reversal phase were shorter in XY males, as compared with both XX gonadal males and females of either SCC, and failures to sustain the observing response were more frequent in XY mice than XX mice during the acquisition phase. These results indicate that SCC affects the characteristic pattern of response selection during acquisition and reversal performance without affecting the overall learning rate. More broadly, these results show direct effects of the SCC on cognitive processes that are relevant to psychiatric/neurodevelopmental disorders and syndromes associated with sex-chromosome aneuploidies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/gbb.12685DOI Listing
January 2021

Reversal Learning Performance in the XY Mouse Model of Klinefelter and Turner Syndromes.

Front Behav Neurosci 2019 6;13:201. Epub 2019 Sep 6.

Department of Psychology, Binghamton University, Binghamton, NY, United States.

Klinefelter syndrome (KS; 47, XXY) and Turner syndrome (TS; 45, XO) are caused by two relatively common sex chromosome aneuploidies. These conditions are associated with an increased odds of neuropsychiatric disorders, including attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), as well as impairments in cognition that include learning delays, attentional dysfunction and impulsivity. We studied cognitive functions in the XY mouse model, which allows comparison of XXY to XY males (KS model), and XO to XX females (TS model). We evaluated adult mice with and without gonads, using a version of an operant reversal-learning task (RLT) that can be used to measure various facets of learning, impulsivity and attention. In the KS model, only one measure related to impulsivity - perseverative responding under reversal conditions - reliably discriminated gonadally intact XXY and XY mice. In contrast, a fundamental learning impairment (more trials to criterion in acquisition phase) in XXY mice, as compared to XY, was observed in gonadectomized subjects. No other task measures showed differences consistent with KS. In the TS mouse model, XO mice did not show a pattern of results consistent with TS, similar to past observations. Thus, the application of this RLT to these XY models reveals only limited behavioral impairments relevant to KS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnbeh.2019.00201DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6742981PMC
September 2019

High ambient temperature facilitates the acquisition of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) self-administration.

Pharmacol Biochem Behav 2017 Dec 17;163:38-49. Epub 2017 Oct 17.

Department of Neuroscience, The Scripps Research Institute; La Jolla, CA, USA. Electronic address:

Rationale: MDMA alters body temperature in rats with a direction that depends on the ambient temperature (T). The thermoregulatory effects of MDMA and T may affect intravenous self-administration (IVSA) of MDMA but limited prior reports conflict.

Objective: To determine how body temperature responses under high and low T influence MDMA IVSA.

Methods: Male Sprague-Dawley rats were trained to IVSA MDMA (1.0mg/kg/infusion; 2-h sessions; FR5 schedule of reinforcement) under T 20°C or 30°C. Radiotelemetry transmitters recorded body temperature and activity during IVSA.

Results: MDMA intake increased under both T during acquisition, but to a greater extent in the 30°C group. The magnitude of hypothermia was initially equivalent between groups but diminished over training in the 30°C group. Within-session activity was initially lower in the 30°C group, but by the end of acquisition and maintenance, activity was similar for both groups. When T conditions were swapped, the hot-trained group increased MDMA IVSA under 20°C T and a modest decrease in drug intake was observed in the cold-trained group under 30°C T. Subsequent non-contingent MDMA (1.0-5.0mg/kg, i.v.) found that rats with higher MDMA IVSA rates showed blunted hypothermia compared with rats with lower IVSA levels; however, within-session activity did not differ by group. High T increased intracranial self-stimulation thresholds in a different group of rats and MDMA reduced thresholds below baseline at low, but not high, T.

Conclusions: High T appears to enhance acquisition of MDMA IVSA through an aversive effect and not via thermoregulatory motivation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pbb.2017.10.008DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5688002PMC
December 2017

Predicting the Abuse Liability of Entactogen-Class, New and Emerging Psychoactive Substances via Preclinical Models of Drug Self-administration.

Curr Top Behav Neurosci 2017 ;32:145-164

Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders Mailcode SP30-2400, The Scripps Research Institute, 10550 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA, 92037, USA.

Animal models of drug self-administration are currently the gold standard for making predictions regarding the relative likelihood that a recreational drug substance will lead to continued use and addiction. Such models have been found to have high predictive accuracy and discriminative validity for a number of drug classes including ethanol, nicotine, opioids, and psychostimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine. Members of the entactogen class of psychostimulants (drugs that produce an "open mind state" including feelings of interpersonal closeness, intimacy and empathy) have been less frequently studied in self-administration models. The prototypical entactogen 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA; "Ecstasy") supports self-administration but not with the same consistency nor with the same efficacy as structurally related drugs amphetamine or methamphetamine. Consistent with these observations, MDMA use is more episodic in the majority of those who use it frequently. Nevertheless, substantial numbers of MDMA users will meet the criteria for substance dependence at some point in their use history. This review examines the currently available evidence from rodent self-administration studies of MDMA and two of the new and emerging psychoactive substances (NPS) that produce entactogen type neuropharmacological responses - mephedrone (4-methylmethcathinone; 4MMC; "meow meow") and methylone (3,4-methylenedioxymethcathinone). Overall, the current evidence predicts that these NPS entactogens have enhanced abuse liability compared with MDMA.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/7854_2016_54DOI Listing
July 2017

Locomotor Stimulant and Rewarding Effects of Inhaling Methamphetamine, MDPV, and Mephedrone via Electronic Cigarette-Type Technology.

Neuropsychopharmacology 2016 10 9;41(11):2759-71. Epub 2016 Jun 9.

Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA, USA.

Although inhaled exposure to drugs is a prevalent route of administration for human substance abusers, preclinical models that incorporate inhaled exposure to psychomotor stimulants are not commonly available. Using a novel method that incorporates electronic cigarette-type technology to facilitate inhalation, male Wistar rats were exposed to vaporized methamphetamine (MA), 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), and mephedrone (4-methylmethcathinone) in propylene glycol vehicle using concentrations ranging from 12.5 to 200 mg/ml. Rats exhibited increases in spontaneous locomotor activity, measured by implanted radiotelemetry, following exposure to methamphetamine (12.5 and 100 mg/ml), MDPV (25, 50, and 100 mg/ml), and mephedrone (200 mg/ml). Locomotor effects were blocked by pretreatment with the dopamine D1-like receptor antagonist SCH23390 (10 μg/kg, intraperitoneal (i.p.)). MA and MDPV vapor inhalation also altered activity on a running wheel in a biphasic manner. An additional group of rats was trained on a discrete trial intracranial self-stimulation (ICSS) procedure interpreted to assess brain reward status. ICSS-trained rats that received vaporized MA, MDPV, or mephedrone exhibited a significant reduction in threshold of ICSS reward compared with vehicle. The effect of vapor inhalation of the stimulants was found comparable to the locomotor and ICSS threshold-reducing effects of i.p. injection of mephedrone (5.0 mg/kg), MA (0.5-1.0 mg/kg), or MDPV (0.5-1.0 mg/kg). These data provide robust validation of e-cigarette-type technology as a model for inhaled delivery of vaporized psychostimulants. Finally, these studies demonstrate the potential for human use of e-cigarettes to facilitate covert use of a range of psychoactive stimulants. Thus, these devices pose health risks beyond their intended application for the delivery of nicotine.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/npp.2016.88DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5026745PMC
October 2016

Inhaled delivery of Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to rats by e-cigarette vapor technology.

Neuropharmacology 2016 10 30;109:112-120. Epub 2016 May 30.

Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA, USA. Electronic address:

Most human Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) use is via inhalation, and yet few animal studies of inhalation exposure are available. Popularization of non-combusted methods for the inhalation of psychoactive drugs (Volcano(®), e-cigarettes) further stimulates a need for rodent models of this route of administration. This study was designed to develop and validate a rodent chamber suitable for controlled exposure to vaporized THC in a propylene glycol vehicle, using an e-cigarette delivery system adapted to standard size, sealed rat housing chambers. The in vivo efficacy of inhaled THC was validated using radiotelemetry to assess body temperature and locomotor responses, a tail-flick assay for nociception and plasma analysis to verify exposure levels. Hypothermic responses to inhaled THC in male rats depended on the duration of exposure and the concentration of THC in the vehicle. The temperature nadir was reached after ∼40 min of exposure, was of comparable magnitude (∼3 °Celsius) to that produced by 20 mg/kg THC, i.p. and resolved within 3 h (compared with a 6 h time course following i.p. THC). Female rats were more sensitive to hypothermic effects of 30 min of lower-dose THC inhalation. Male rat tail-flick latency was increased by THC vapor inhalation; this effect was blocked by SR141716 pretreatment. The plasma THC concentration after 30 min of inhalation was similar to that produced by 10 mg/kg THC i.p. This approach is flexible, robust and effective for use in laboratory rats and will be of increasing utility as users continue to adopt "vaping" for the administration of cannabis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropharm.2016.05.021DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4970926PMC
October 2016

In vivo potency and efficacy of the novel cathinone α-pyrrolidinopentiophenone and 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone: self-administration and locomotor stimulation in male rats.

Psychopharmacology (Berl) 2015 Aug 1;232(16):3045-55. Epub 2015 May 1.

Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders, The Scripps Research Institute, SP30-2400; 10550 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA, 92037, USA.

Rationale: Numerous substituted cathinone drugs have appeared in recreational use. This variety is often a response to legal actions; the scheduling of 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV; "bath salts") in the USA was followed by the appearance of the closely related drug α-pyrrolidinopentiophenone (alpha-PVP; "flakka").

Objectives: This study aimed to directly compare the efficacy and potency of alpha-PVP with that of MDPV.

Methods: Groups of male Wistar rats were trained in the intravenous self-administration (IVSA) alpha-PVP or MDPV under a fixed-ratio 1 schedule of reinforcement. An additional group was examined for locomotor and body temperature responses to noncontingent administration of MDVP or alpha-PVP (1.0, 5.6, and 10.0 mg/kg, i.p.).

Results: Acquisition of alpha-PVP (0.1 mg/kg/infusion) IVSA resulted in low, yet consistent drug intake and excellent discrimination for the drug-paired lever. Dose substitution (0.05-0.25 mg/kg/infusion) under a fixed-ratio 1 schedule confirmed potency was similar to MDPV in prior studies. In direct comparison to MDPV (0.05 mg/kg/infusion), rats trained on alpha-PVP (0.05 mg/kg/infusion) responded for more infusions but demonstrated similar drug-lever discrimination by the end of acquisition. However, the dose-response (0.018-0.56 mg/kg/infusion) functions of these drugs under a progressive-ratio schedule of reinforcement reflected identical efficacy and potency. Peak locomotor responses to MDPV or alpha-PVP were observed after the 1.0 mg/kg, i.p. dose and lasted ∼2 h. Modest body temperature decreases were of similar magnitude (∼0.75 °C) for each compound.

Conclusions: The potency and efficacy of MDPV and alpha-PVP were very similar across multiple assays, predicting that the abuse liability of alpha-PVP will be significant and similar to that of MDPV.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00213-015-3944-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4515201PMC
August 2015

One day access to a running wheel reduces self-administration of D-methamphetamine, MDMA and methylone.

Drug Alcohol Depend 2015 Jun 26;151:151-8. Epub 2015 Mar 26.

Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders, The Scripps Research Institute, SP30-2400, 10550 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA. Electronic address:

Background: Exercise influences drug craving and consumption in humans and drug self-administration in laboratory animals, but the effects can be variable. Improved understanding of how exercise affects drug intake or craving would enhance applications of exercise programs to human drug users attempting cessation.

Methods: Rats were trained in the intravenous self-administration (IVSA) of D-methamphetamine (METH; 0.05 mg/kg/inf), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA; 0.5 mg/kg/inf) or methylone (0.5 mg/kg/inf). Once IVSA was established, the effect of ∼ 22 h of wheel access in the home cage on subsequent drug taking was assessed in a two cohort crossover design.

Results: Provision of home cage wheel access during the day prior to IVSA sessions significantly decreased the self-administration of METH, MDMA and methylone. At the individual level, there was no correlation between the amount a rat used the wheel and the size of the individual's decrease in drug intake.

Conclusions: Wheel access can reduce self-administration of a variety of psychomotor stimulants. It does so immediately, i.e., without a need for weeks of exercise prior to drug access. This study therefore indicates that future mechanistic investigations should focus on acute effects of exercise. In sum, the results predict that exercise programs can be used to decrease stimulant drug use in individuals even with no exercise history and an established drug taking pattern.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2015.03.016DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4447594PMC
June 2015

Mephedrone (4-methylmethcathinone) supports intravenous self-administration in Sprague-Dawley and Wistar rats.

Addict Biol 2013 Sep 30;18(5):786-99. Epub 2013 Jan 30.

Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA, USA.

Recreational use of the drug 4-methylmethcathinone (mephedrone; 4-MMC) became increasingly popular in the United Kingdom in recent years, spurred in part by the fact that it was not criminalized until April 2010. Although several fatalities have been associated with consumption of 4-MMC and cautions for recreational users about its addictive potential have appeared on Internet forums, very little information about abuse liability for this drug is available. This study was conducted to determine if 4-MMC serves as a reinforcer in a traditional intravenous self-administration model. Groups of male Wistar and Sprague-Dawley rats were prepared with intravenous catheters and trained to self-administer 4-MMC in 1-hour sessions. Per-infusion doses of 0.5 and 1.0 mg/kg were consistently self-administered, resulting in greater than 80% discrimination for the drug-paired lever and mean intakes of about 2-3 mg/kg/hour. Dose-substitution studies after acquisition demonstrated that the number of responses and/or the total amount of drug self-administered varied as a function of dose. In addition, radiotelemetry devices were used to show that self-administered 4-MMC was capable of increasing locomotor activity (Wistar) and decreasing body temperature (Sprague-Dawley). Pharmacokinetic studies found that the T1/2 of 4-MMC was about 1 hour in vivo in rat plasma and 90 minutes using in vitro liver microsomal assays. This study provides evidence of stimulant-typical abuse liability for 4-MMC in the traditional pre-clinical self-administration model.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/adb.12038DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3641159PMC
September 2013

A methamphetamine vaccine attenuates methamphetamine-induced disruptions in thermoregulation and activity in rats.

Biol Psychiatry 2013 Apr 23;73(8):721-8. Epub 2012 Oct 23.

Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders, Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.

Background: There are no approved pharmacotherapies for d-methamphetamine (METH) addiction and existing therapies have limited efficacy. Advances in using immunotherapeutic approaches for cocaine and nicotine addiction have stimulated interest in creating a similar approach for METH addiction. This study investigated whether active vaccination against METH could potentially attenuate responses to METH in vivo.

Methods: Male Sprague Dawley rats (n = 32) received a four-boost series with one of three candidate anti-METH vaccines (MH2[R], MH6, and MH7) or a control keyhole limpet hemocyanin conjugate vaccine. Effects of METH on rectal temperature and wheel activity at 27°C ambient temperature were determined. The most efficacious vaccine, MH6, was then contrasted with keyhole limpet hemocyanin conjugate vaccine in a subsequent experiment (n = 16), wherein radiotelemetry determined home cage locomotor activity and body temperature at 23°C ambient temperature.

Results: The MH6 vaccine produced high antibody titers with nanomolar affinity for METH and sequestered METH in the periphery of rats. In experiment 1, the thermoregulatory and psychomotor responses produced by METH at 27°C were blocked in the MH6 group. In experiment 2, METH-induced decreases in body temperature and locomotor activity at 23°C were also attenuated in the MH6 group. A pharmacokinetic study in experiment 2 showed that MH6-vaccinated rats had higher METH serum concentrations, yet lower brain METH concentrations, than control rats, and METH concentrations correlated with individual antibody titer.

Conclusions: These data demonstrate that active immunopharmacotherapy provides functional protection against physiological and behavioral disruptions induced by METH.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2012.09.010DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3561477PMC
April 2013

Effect of ambient temperature on the thermoregulatory and locomotor stimulant effects of 4-methylmethcathinone in Wistar and Sprague-Dawley rats.

PLoS One 2012 31;7(8):e44652. Epub 2012 Aug 31.

Committee on Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California, USA.

The drug 4-methylmethcathinone (4-MMC; aka, mephedrone, MMCAT, "plant food", "bath salts") is a recent addition to the list of popular recreational psychomotor-stimulant compounds. Relatively little information about this drug is available in the scientific literature, but popular media reports have driven recent drug control actions in the UK and several US States. Online user reports of subjective similarity to 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, "Ecstasy") prompted the current investigation of the thermoregulatory and locomotor effects of 4-MMC. Male Wistar and Sprague-Dawley rats were monitored after subcutaneous administration of 4-MMC (1-10 mg/kg ) using an implantable radiotelemetry system under conditions of low (23°C) and high (27°C) ambient temperature. A reliable reduction of body temperature was produced by 4-MMC in Wistar rats at 23°C or 27°C with only minimal effect in Sprague-Dawley rats. Increased locomotor activity was observed after 4-MMC administration in both strains with significantly more activity produced in the Sprague-Dawley strain. The 10 mg/kg s.c. dose evoked greater increase in extracellular serotonin, compared with dopamine, in the nucleus accumbens. Follow-up studies confirmed that the degree of locomotor stimulation produced by 10 mg/kg 4-MMC was nearly identical to that produced by 1 mg/kg d-methamphetamine in each strain. Furthermore, hypothermia produced by the serotonin 1(A/7) receptor agonist 8-hydroxy-N,N-dipropyl-2-aminotetralin (8-OH-DPAT) was similar in each strain. These results show that the cathinone analog 4-MMC exhibits thermoregulatory and locomotor properties that are distinct from those established for methamphetamine or MDMA in prior work, despite recent evidence of neuropharmacological similarity with MDMA.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0044652PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3432134PMC
February 2013

Contrasting effects of d-methamphetamine, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone, and 4-methylmethcathinone on wheel activity in rats.

Drug Alcohol Depend 2012 Nov 3;126(1-2):168-75. Epub 2012 Jun 3.

Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders, The Scripps Research Institute, CA 92037, USA.

Background: Reports from U.S., U.K. and European drug policy entities, and ongoing media accounts, show increasing recreational use of 4-methylmethcathinone (4-MMC, mephedrone) and 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV). Severe sympathomimetic symptoms, hallucinations, psychoses, and even deaths have been reported, yet little scientific information is available on the effects of these compounds in laboratory models. Available studies on the neurochemistry of these drugs show that 4-MMC and MDPV enhance DA neurotransmission, while 4-MMC additionally enhances 5-HT neurotransmission--a pattern much like that reported for methamphetamine versus 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA). As is the case for designer amphetamines, these neurochemical distinctions may predict differential potential for repetitive versus episodic abuse and distinct lasting toxicities.

Methods: This study determined relative locomotor stimulant effects of 4-MMC (1-10 mg/kg, s.c.) and MDPV (0.5-5.6 mg/kg, s.c.), in comparison with d-methamphetamine (MA; 0.5-5.6 mg/kg, s.c.) and MDMA (1-7.5 mg/kg, s.c.) on a measure of locomotor activity--voluntary wheel running--in male Wistar rats (N=8).

Results: Compared to counts of wheel rotations after saline, a biphasic change in the pattern of counts was observed after injections of MA and MDPV, with relatively higher counts following lower doses and lower counts following the highest dose. However, monophasic, dose-dependent reductions in counts were observed in response to injections of MDMA and 4-MMC.

Conclusion: Thus, voluntary wheel running yielded the same categorical distinctions for these drugs as did prior experiments testing the effects of these drugs on monoaminergic neurotransmission. These data indicate that MDPV produces prototypical locomotor stimulant effects whereas 4-MMC is more similar to the entactogen MDMA.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2012.05.011DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3439532PMC
November 2012

Effects of atomoxetine and methylphenidate on performance of a lateralized reaction time task in rats.

Psychopharmacology (Berl) 2009 Jan 6;202(1-3):497-504. Epub 2008 Jun 6.

Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, P.O. Box 951563, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1563, USA.

Rationale: The ability to detect unpredictable cues can involve stimulus-elicited orienting of attention (bottom-up processing); however, in many settings, target onset is partially predictable, meaning that subjects can benefit from the rule-guided, endogenous control of attention (top-down processing). Noradrenaline has been implicated in attention per se, but it is not clear whether it differentially participates in these two dimensions of attentional function.

Objectives: We sought to examine the effects of selective or nonselective inhibitors of noradrenaline reuptake on different modes of attentional performance in rats.

Materials And Methods: Adult male Long-Evans rats were trained to perform a lateralized reaction time task where a variable-duration preparatory period preceded delivery of a visual target stimulus. Atomoxetine (1 mg/kg, i.p.) or methylphenidate (0.32 mg/kg, i.p.) were administered before sessions in which the preparatory period was systematically varied.

Results: When the preparatory time was brief (0.2 s), response times were significantly longer than when the preparatory time was long (1.0 s), suggesting that rats were able to orient their attention before target onset when the longer period was imposed. Atomoxetine differentially modulated performance in these two conditions, improving response accuracy when a long preparatory period was imposed but impairing accuracy when the preparatory time was made brief. Methylphenidate did not differentially affect responding under the two conditions.

Conclusions: These data suggest that selective inhibition of the noradrenaline transporter may specifically benefit attentional performance of tasks that permit the controlled recruitment of attention, rather than during tests of pure stimulus-driven attention.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00213-008-1181-0DOI Listing
January 2009

Haploinsufficiency of the arginine-vasopressin gene is associated with poor spatial working memory performance in rats.

Horm Behav 2006 Apr 20;49(4):501-8. Epub 2005 Dec 20.

Department of Psychology, University of California at Los Angeles, PO Box 951563, 90095-1563, USA.

Behavioral pharmacological studies have implicated a role for the neurophysin arginine-vasopressin in learning and memory. Vasopressin, and its analogues, can produce either improvements or impairments in mnemonic functions, effects that depend upon the agent administered, the memory process measured and the task employed. As recent data have implicated vasopressin in regulating the cognitive functions of the prefrontal cortex, we sought to determine whether changes in vasopressinergic tone would affect a form of memory that is dependent upon this brain region. To that end, we used a genetic approach to examine how haploinsufficiency of the vasopressin gene affects working memory performance. Specifically, we tested a naturally occurring null-mutant rat on an operant delayed-non-match-to-position task. Male and female heterozygous and wild-type rats were trained to perform this working memory task, and the effects of varying the delay across which they had to maintain task information were systematically varied. Although vasopressin-deficient rats omitted fewer trials and completed trials more quickly, they exhibited delay-dependent deficits of choice accuracy. The genotype effects were not modified by sex. Collectively, these data indicate that even partial vasopressin deficiency can trigger deficits of spatial working memory performance and add to the growing body of results supporting a regulatory control of neocortical-dependent cognitive functions by this neurohormone.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.yhbeh.2005.11.002DOI Listing
April 2006

Appearance of symmetry, beauty, and health in human faces.

Brain Cogn 2005 Apr;57(3):261-3

Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, Box 951563 Los Angeles, CA 90095, United States.

Symmetry is an important concept in biology, being related to mate selection strategies, health, and survival of species. In human faces, the relevance of left-right symmetry to attractiveness and health is not well understood. We compared the appearance of facial attractiveness, health, and symmetry in three separate experiments. Participants inspected front views of faces on the computer screen and judged them on a 5-point scale according to their attractiveness in Experiment 1, health in Experiment 2, and symmetry in Experiment 3. We found that symmetry and attractiveness were not strongly related in faces of women or men while health and symmetry were related. There was a significant difference between attractiveness and symmetry judgments but not between health and symmetry judgments. Moreover, there was a significant difference between attractiveness and health. Facial symmetry may be critical for the appearance of health but it does not seem to be critical for the appearance of attractiveness, not surprisingly perhaps because human faces together with the human brain have been shaped by adaptive evolution to be naturally asymmetrical.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bandc.2004.08.056DOI Listing
April 2005
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