Convergent results from animal and human studies suggest that reducing serotonin neurotransmission promotes impulsive behavior. Here, serotonin depletion was induced by the dietary tryptophan depletion procedure (TD) in healthy volunteers to examine the role of serotonin in impulsive action and impulsive choice. We used a novel translational analog of a rodent 5-choice serial reaction time task (5-CSRTT) the human 4-CSRTT and a reward delay-discounting questionnaire to measure effects on these different forms of 'waiting impulsivity'. There was no effect of TD on impulsive choice as indexed by the reward delay-discounting questionnaire. However, TD significantly increased 4-CSRTT premature responses (or impulsive action), which is remarkably similar to the previous findings of effect of serotonin depletion on rodent 5-CSRTT performance. Moreover, the increased premature responding in TD correlated significantly with individual differences on the motor impulsivity subscale of the Barratt Impulsivity Scale. TD also improved the accuracy of performance and speeded responding, possibly indicating enhanced attention and reward processing. The results suggest: (i) the 4-CSRTT will be a valuable addition to the tests already available to measure impulsivity in humans in a direct translational analog of a test extensively used in rodents; (ii) TD in humans produces a qualitatively similar profile of effects to those in rodents (ie, enhancing premature responding), hence supporting the conclusion that TD in humans exerts at least some of its effects on central serotonin; and (iii) this manipulation of serotonin produces dissociable effects on different measures of impulsivity, suggesting considerable specificity in its modulatory role.
The 5-choice serial reaction time task (5-CSRTT) is widely used to measure rodent attentional functions. In humans, many attention studies in healthy and clinical populations have used testing based on Bundesen’s Theory of Visual Attention (TVA) to estimate visual processing speeds and other parameters of attentional capacity.We aimed to bridge these research fields by modifying the 5-CSRTT’s design and by mathematically modelling data to derive attentional parameters analogous to human TVA-based measures.C57BL/6 mice were tested in two 1-h sessions on consecutive days with a version of the 5-CSRTT where stimulus duration (SD) probe length was varied based on information from previous TVA studies. Thereafter, a scopolamine hydrobromide (HBr; 0.125 or 0.25 mg/kg) pharmacological challenge was undertaken, using a Latin square design. Mean score values were modelled using a new three-parameter version of TVA to obtain estimates of visual processing speeds, visual thresholds and motor response baselines in each mouse.The parameter estimates for each animal were reliable across sessions, showing that the data were stable enough to support analysis on an individual level. Scopolamine HBr dose-dependently reduced 5-CSRTT attentional performance while also increasing reward collection latency at the highest dose. Upon TVA modelling, scopolamine HBr significantly reduced visual processing speed at both doses, while having less pronounced effects on visual thresholds and motor response baselines.This study shows for the first time how 5-CSRTT performance in mice can be mathematically modelled to yield estimates of attentional capacity that are directly comparable to estimates from human studies.
The five-choice serial reaction time task (5-CSRTT) is regularly used to study attention and impulsivity. In the 5-CSRTT, rodents initiate a trial, then after an inter-trial interval (ITI), a light appears in one of five holes. Responding in the lit vs. unlit hole reflects attention (accuracy), while responding prematurely before a light appears is suggested to reflect impulsivity/response disinhibition. Comparison of rat and mouse 5-CSRTT performance has raised questions on the validity of premature responses as measuring impulsivity/response inhibition. To minimize effort, rodents may use a temporal strategy, enabling their "timing" of the ITI, minimizing the need to attend during this delay. Greater reliance on this strategy could result in premature responses due to "guesses" if their timing was poor/altered. To assess the degree to which rats and/or mice utilize a temporal strategy, we challenged performance using infrequent no-light trials during 5-CSRTT performance. Even when no light appeared when one was expected, rats responded similar to 60 % compared to similar to 40 % in mice, indicating a greater reliance on a temporal strategy by rats than by mice. Consistent with this hypothesis, rats made more premature responses than mice. Additional studies using a temporal discrimination task and a 5-CSRTT variant demonstrated that delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in cannabis, slowed temporal perception and reduced premature responses. These data provide behavioral and pharmacological evidence indicating that premature responses are heavily influenced by temporal perception. Hence, they may reflect an aspect of waiting impulsivity, but not response disinhibition, an important distinction for translational clinical research.
Prefrontal cortex (PFC) and dorsal striatum are part of the neural circuit critical for executive attention. The relationship between 5-HT and aspects of attention and executive control is complex depending on experimental conditions and the level of activation of different 5-HT receptors within the nuclei of corticostriatal circuitry.The present study investigated which 5-HT2A and 5-HT2C receptors in the dorsomedial-striatum (dm-STR) contribute to executive attention deficit induced by blockade of NMDA receptors in the PFC.Executive attention was assessed by the five-choice serial reaction time task (5-CSRTT), which provides indices of attention (accuracy) and those of executive control over performance such as premature (an index of impulsivity) and perseverative responding. The effects of targeted infusion in dm-STR of 100 and 300 ng/μl doses of the selective 5-HT2A antagonist M100907 and 1 and 3 μg/μl doses of 5-HT2C agonist Ro60-0175 was examined in animals injected with 50 ng/μl dose of a competitive NMDA receptor antagonist 3-(R)-2-carboxypiperazin-4-phosphonic acid (CPP) in the mPFC. Blockade of NMDA receptors impaired accuracy as well as executive control as shown by increased premature and perseverative responding. The CPP-induced premature and perseverative over-responding were dose-dependently prevented by both M100907 and Ro60-0175. Both drugs partially removed the CPP-induced accuracy deficit but only at the highest dose tested.It is suggested that in the dorsal striatum, 5-HT by an action on 5-HT2A and 5-HT2C receptors may integrate the glutamate corticostriatal inputs critical for different aspects of the 5-CSRT task performance.
This study examined the effects of methylphenidate (MPH) on reaction time (RT) variability in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Using a broad battery of computerized tasks, and both conventional and ex-Gaussian indicators of RT variability, in addition to within-task manipulations of incentive and event rate (ER), this study comprehensively examined the breadth, specificity, and possible moderators of effects of MPH on RT variability. A total of 93 children with ADHD completed a 4-week within-subject, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial of MPH to identify an optimal dosage. Children were then randomly assigned to receive either their optimal MPH dose or placebo after which they completed five neuropsychological tasks, each allowing trial-by-trial assessment of RTs. Stimulant effects on RT variability were observed on both measures of the total RT distribution (ie, coefficient of variation) as well as on an ex-Gaussian measure examining the exponential portion of the RT distribution (ie, tau). There was minimal, if any, effect of MPH on performance accuracy or RT speed. Within-task incentive and ER manipulations did not appreciably affect stimulant effects across the tasks. The pattern of significant and pervasive effects of MPH on RT variability, and few effects of MPH on accuracy and RT speed suggest that MPH primarily affects RT variability. Given the magnitude and breadth of effects of MPH on RT variability as well as the apparent specificity of these effects of MPH on RT variability indicators, future research should focus on neurophysiological correlates of effects of MPH on RT variability in an effort to better define MPH pharmacodynamics. Neuropsychopharmacology (2011) 36, 1060-1072; doi:10.1038/npp.2010.243; published online 19 January 2011
Attentional impairments and exaggerated impulsivity are key features of psychiatric disorders, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, and addiction. These deficits in attentional performance and impulsive behaviors have been associated with aberrant dopamine (DA) signaling, but it remains unknown whether these deficits result from enhanced DA neuronal activity in the midbrain. Here, we took a novel approach by testing the impact of chemogenetically activating DA neurons in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) or substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc) on attention and impulsivity in the five-choice serial reaction time task (5-CSRTT) in rats. We found that activation of DA neurons in both the VTA and SNc impaired attention by increasing trial omissions. In addition, SNc DA neuron activation decreased attentional accuracy. Surprisingly, enhanced DA neuron activity did not affect impulsive action in this task. These results show that enhanced midbrain DA neuronal activity induces deficits in attentional performance, but not impulsivity. Furthermore, DA neurons in the VTA and SNc have different roles in regulating attention. These findings contribute to our understanding of the neural substrates underlying attention deficits and impulsivity, and provide valuable insights to improve treatment of these symptoms.
Background and Purpose Repeated administration of a μ opioid receptor agonist can enhance some forms of impulsivity, such as delay discounting. However, it is unclear whether repeated administration alters motor impulsivity. Experimental Approach We examined the effects of acute administration of morphine and amphetamine prior to and during daily morphine administration in rats responding under a five‐choice serial reaction time task. Rats (n = 5) were trained to detect a brief flash of light presented randomly in one of five response holes; responding in the target hole delivered food, whereas responding in the wrong hole or responding prior to illumination of the target stimulus (premature response) initiated a timeout. Premature responding served as an index of motor impulsivity. Key Results Administered acutely, morphine (0.1–10 mg·kg−1, i.p.) increased omissions and modestly, although not significantly, premature responding without affecting response accuracy; amphetamine (0.1–1.78 mg·kg−1, i.p.) increased premature responding without changing omissions or response accuracy. After 3 weeks of 10 mg·kg−1·day−1 morphine, tolerance developed to its effects on omissions whereas premature responding increased approximately fourfold, compared with baseline. Effects of amphetamine were not significantly affected by daily morphine administration. Conclusions and Implications These data suggest that repeated administration of morphine increased effects of morphine on motor impulsivity, although tolerance developed to other effects, such as omissions. To the extent that impulsivity is a risk factor for drug abuse, repeated administration of μ opioid receptor agonists, for recreational or therapeutic purposes, might increase impulsivity and thus the risk for drug abuse.
Depletion of brain serotonin (5-HT) results in impulsive behaviour as measured by increased premature responding in the five-choice serial reaction time (5-CSRT) test. Acute selective blockade of 5-HT2C receptors also increases this form of impulsive action, whereas 5-HT2C receptor stimulation reduces premature responding.These experiments determined the impact of genetic disruption of 5-HT2C receptor function on impulsive responding in the 5-CSRT test.Food-restricted 5-HT2C receptor null mutant and wild-type (WT) mice were trained on the 5-CSRT test in which subjects detect and correctly respond to brief light stimuli for food reinforcement. Impulsivity is measured as premature responses that occur prior to stimulus presentation.Both lines of mice quickly learned this task, but there were no genotype differences in premature responding or any other aspect of performance. A series of drug challenges were then given. The 5-HT2C receptor agonist Ro60-0175 (0.6 mg/kg) reduced premature responding in WT mice but not mutant mice. The 5-HT2C receptor antagonist SB242084 increased premature responding in WT mice only. Cocaine increased premature responding at 7.5 mg/kg but not at a higher dose that disrupted overall responding; these effects were observed in both lines of mice. Amphetamine (0.25 and 0.5 mg/kg) did not affect premature responding, but disrupted other aspects of performance in both genotypes.Genetic deletion of 5-HT2C receptor function does not induce an impulsive state or exacerbate that state induced by psychomotor stimulants but does prevent the acute effects of 5-HT2C receptor stimulation or blockade on impulsive action.
Cotinine, the most predominant metabolite of nicotine in mammalian species, has a pharmacological half-life that greatly exceeds its precursor. However, until recently, relatively few studies had been conducted to systematically characterize the behavioral pharmacology of cotinine. Our previous work indicated that cotinine improves prepulse inhibition of the auditory startle response in rats in pharmacological impairment models and that it improves working memory in non-human primates. Here we tested the hypothesis that cotinine improves sustained attention in rats and attenuates behavioral alterations induced by the glutamate (NMDA) antagonist MK-801. The effects of acute subcutaneous (dose range 0.03–10.0mg/kg) and chronic oral administration (2.0mg/kg/day in drinking water) of cotinine were evaluated in fixed and variable stimulus duration (VSD) as well as variable intertrial interval (VITI) versions of a five choice serial reaction time task (5C-SRTT). The results indicated only subtle effects of acute cotinine (administered alone) on performance of the 5C-SRTT (e.g., decreases in timeout responses). However, depending on dose, acute treatment with cotinine attenuated MK-801-related impairments in accuracy and elevations in timeout responses, and it increased the number of completed trials. Moreover, chronic cotinine attenuated MK-801-related impairments in accuracy and it reduced premature and timeout responses when the demands of the task were increased (i.e., by presenting VSDs or VITIs in addition to administering MK-801). These data suggest that cotinine may represent a prototype for compounds that have therapeutic potential for neuropsychiatric disorders (i.e., by improving sustained attention and decreasing impulsive and compulsive behaviors), especially those characterized by glutamate receptor alterations.
Atomoxetine is a noradrenaline-specific reuptake inhibitor used clinically for the treatment of childhood and adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Studies in human volunteers and patient groups have shown that atomoxetine improves stop-signal reaction time (SSRT) performance, an effect consistent with a reduction in motor impulsivity. However, ADHD is a heterogeneous disorder and it is of interest to determine whether atomoxetine is similarly effective against other forms of impulsivity, as well as the attentional impairment present in certain subtypes of ADHD. The present study examined the effects of atomoxetine on impulsivity using an analogous SSRT task in rats and two additional tests of impulsivity; delay discounting of reward and the five-choice serial reaction time task (5CSRTT), the latter providing an added assessment of sustained visual attention. Atomoxetine produced a significant dose-dependent speeding of SSRT. In addition, atomoxetine produced a selective, dose-dependent decrease in premature responding on the 5CSRTT. Finally, on the delay-discounting task, atomoxetine significantly decreased impulsivity by increasing preference for the large-value reward across increasing delay. These findings conclusively demonstrate that atomoxetine decreases several distinct forms of impulsivity in rats. The apparent contrast of these effects with stimulant drugs such as amphetamine and methylphenidate, which generally act to increase impulsivity on the 5CSRTT, may provide new insights into the mechanisms of action of stimulant and nonstimulant drugs in ADHD.