Protocol | Published:

The application of the 5-choice serial reaction time task for the assessment of visual attentional processes and impulse control in rats

Nature Protocols volume 3, pages 759767 (2008) | Download Citation

Subjects

Abstract

One popular way of measuring visual attentional processes in the rat is using 5-choice serial reaction time task (5-CSRTT). This paradigm requires subjects to detect brief flashes of light presented in a pseudorandom order in one of five spatial locations over a large number of trials. For this task, the animals are trained for 30–40 daily sessions during which they gradually learn to respond in the appropriate aperture within a certain amount of time. If they fail to respond, respond in the wrong hole or at an inappropriate time, a short period of darkness (time-out) is presented as punishment and no reward is delivered. The 5-CSRTT provides the possibility to test the effects of various neural, pharmacological and behavioral manipulations on discrete and somewhat independent measures of behavioral control, including accuracy of discrimination, impulsivity, perseverative responses and response latencies.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1.

    The 5-choice serial reaction time task: behavioural pharmacology and functional neurochemistry. Psychopharmacology (Berl.) 163, 362–380 (2002).

  2. 2.

    , , & Effects of lesions to ascending noradrenergic neurones on performance of a 5-choice serial reaction task in rats; implications for theories of dorsal noradrenergic bundle function based on selective attention and arousal. Behav. Brain Res. 9, 361–380 (1983).

  3. 3.

    Interaction of noise with knowledge of results and sleep deprivation. J. Exp. Psychol. 66, 332–337 (1963).

  4. 4.

    , , , & A continuous performance test of brain damage. J. Consult. Psychol. 20, 343–350 (1956).

  5. 5.

    , & Nicotine-induced enhancement of attention in the five-choice serial reaction time task: the influence of task demands. Psychopharmacology (Berl.) 162, 129–137 (2002).

  6. 6.

    et al. Nucleus accumbens D2/3 receptors predict trait impulsivity and cocaine reinforcement. Science 315, 1267–1270 (2007).

  7. 7.

    et al. Effects of atomoxetine and methylphenidate on attention and impulsivity in the 5-choice serial reaction time test. Prog. Neuropsychopharmacol. Biol. Psychiatry 32, 34–41 (2008).

  8. 8.

    & Dimensional analysis of ADHD subtypes in rats. Biol. Psychiatry 61, 1340–1350 (2007).

  9. 9.

    et al. Behavioral and pharmacological studies on the validation of a new animal model for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Neurobiol. Learn. Mem. 66, 198–211 (1996).

  10. 10.

    , , & Differential effects of psychomotor stimulants on attentional performance in rats: nicotine, amphetamine, caffeine and methylphenidate. Behav. Pharmacol. 15, 195–206 (2004).

  11. 11.

    et al. Similar effects of the selective noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor atomoxetine on three distinct forms of impulsivity in the rat. Neuropsychopharmacology 33, 1028–1037 (2008).

  12. 12.

    et al. Differential effects of ciproxifan and nicotine on impulsivity and attention measures in the 5-choice serial reaction time test. Biochem. Pharmacol. 73, 1123–1134 (2007).

  13. 13.

    , , & Age-associated impairments in a test of attention: evidence for involvement of cholinergic systems. J. Neurosci. 15, 7282–7292 (1995).

  14. 14.

    , & Decline in visual attention and spatial memory in aged rats. Neurobiol. Aging 20, 605–615 (1999).

  15. 15.

    et al. Cognitive sequelae of intravenous amphetamine self-administration in rats: evidence for selective effects on attentional performance. Neuropsychopharmacology 30, 525–537 (2005).

  16. 16.

    et al. Attentional and motivational deficits in rats withdrawn from intravenous self-administration of cocaine or heroin. Psychopharmacology (Berl.) 182, 579–587 (2005).

  17. 17.

    et al. Enduring deficits in sustained visual attention during withdrawal of intravenous methylenedioxymethamphetamine self-administration in rats: results from a comparative study with d-amphetamine and methamphetamine. Neuropsychopharmacology 32, 1195–1206 (2007).

  18. 18.

    , & Central 5-HT depletion enhances impulsive responding without affecting the accuracy of attentional performance: interactions with dopaminergic mechanisms. Psychopharmacology (Berl.) 133, 329–342 (1997).

  19. 19.

    , & The frontal cortex of the rat and visual attentional performance: dissociable functions of distinct medial prefrontal subregions. Cereb. Cortex 12, 1254–1268 (2002).

  20. 20.

    et al. Dissociable aspects of performance on the 5-choice serial reaction time task following lesions of the dorsal anterior cingulate, infralimbic and orbitofrontal cortex in the rat: differential effects on selectivity, impulsivity and compulsivity. Behav. Brain Res. 146, 105–119 (2003).

  21. 21.

    , , , & Double dissociation between serotonergic and dopaminergic modulation of medial prefrontal and orbitofrontal cortex during a test of impulsive choice. Cereb. Cortex 16, 106–114 (2006).

  22. 22.

    et al. Distinct changes in cortical acetylcholine and noradrenaline efflux during contingent and noncontingent performance of a visual attentional task. J. Neurosci. 21, 4908–4914 (2001).

  23. 23.

    , , , & Increased acetylcholine release in the rat medial prefrontal cortex during performance of a visual attentional task. Eur. J. Neurosci. 12, 3051–3058 (2000).

  24. 24.

    , , , & Specific abnormalities in serotonin release in the prefrontal cortex of isolation-reared rats measured during behavioural performance of a task assessing visuospatial attention and impulsivity. Psychopharmacology (Berl.) 164, 329–340 (2002).

  25. 25.

    , & Metabolic alterations in the prefrontal and cingulate cortices are related to behavioral deficits in a rodent model of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Cereb. Cortex 11, 1056–1063 (2001).

  26. 26.

    , & Depletion of unilateral striatal dopamine impairs initiation of contralateral actions and not sensory attention. Nature 313, 679–682 (1985).

  27. 27.

    , , & Attentional functions of the forebrain cholinergic systems: effects of intraventricular hemicholinium, physostigmine, basal forebrain lesions and intracortical grafts on a multiple-choice serial reaction time task. Exp. Brain Res. 89, 611–622 (1992).

  28. 28.

    & Psychopharmacological approaches to modulating attention in the five-choice serial reaction time task: implications for schizophrenia. Psychopharmacology (Berl.) 174, 86–98 (2004).

  29. 29.

    , & Cognitive-disruptive effects of the psychotomimetic phencyclidine and attenuation by atypical antipsychotic medications in rats. Psychopharmacology (Berl.) 193, 521–537 (2007).

  30. 30.

    , , & Phencyclidine exacerbates attentional deficits in a neurodevelopmental rat model of schizophrenia. Neuropsychopharmacology 28, 1799–1809 (2003).

  31. 31.

    , & Haloperidol and clozapine have dissociable effects in a model of attentional performance deficits induced by blockade of NMDA receptors in the mPFC. Psychopharmacology (Berl.) 196, 269–280 (2007).

  32. 32.

    & Assessing a vigilance decrement in aged rats: effects of pre-feeding, task manipulation, and psychostimulants. Psychopharmacology (Berl.) 164, 33–41 (2002).

  33. 33.

    , & Behavioural models of impulsivity in relation to ADHD: translation between clinical and preclinical studies. Clin. Psychol. Rev. 26, 379–395 (2006).

  34. 34.

    & Functions of frontostriatal systems in cognition: comparative neuropsychopharmacological studies in rats, monkeys and humans. Biol. Psychol. 73, 19–38 (2006).

  35. 35.

    et al. Further analysis of the cognitive effects of tetrahydroaminoacridine (THA) in Alzheimer's disease: assessment of attentional and mnemonic function using CANTAB. Psychopharmacology (Berl.) 110, 395–401 (1993).

  36. 36.

    , , & Sensitivity of the five-choice serial reaction time task to the effects of various psychotropic drugs in Sprague-Dawley rats. Biol. Psychiatry 62, 687–693 (2007).

  37. 37.

    & Nicotine enhances sustained attention in the rat under specific task conditions. Psychopharmacology (Berl.) 138, 266–274 (1998).

  38. 38.

    , , & Methods for assessing attention and stimulus control in the rat. In Behavioural Neuroscience: A Practical Approach Vol. I (ed. Sahgal, A.) 13–40 (Oxford University Press, New York, 1993).

  39. 39.

    & Interaction of signal discriminability and task type in vigilance decrement. Percept. Psychophys. 41, 17–22 (1987).

  40. 40.

    , , & Reversal of a vigilance decrement in the aged rat by subtype-selective nicotinic ligands. Neuropsychopharmacology 28, 880–887 (2003).

  41. 41.

    & Arousal systems and attention. In The Cognitive Neurosciences (ed. Gazzaniga, M.S.) 703–720 (MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1995).

  42. 42.

    , & Functional disconnection of the medial prefrontal cortex and subthalamic nucleus in attentional performance: evidence for corticosubthalamic interaction. J. Neurosci. 23, 5477–5485 (2003).

  43. 43.

    , & Double dissociation of serotonergic and dopaminergic mechanisms on attentional performance using a rodent five-choice reaction time task. Psychopharmacology (Berl.) 165, 136–145 (2003).

  44. 44.

    Behavioral approaches to the assessment of attention in animals. Psychopharmacology (Berl.) 138, 231–259 (1998).

  45. 45.

    Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: a selective overview. Biol. Psychiatry 57, 1215–1220 (2005).

  46. 46.

    et al. Attentional deficits in patients with schizophrenia and in their non-psychotic first-degree relatives. Psychiatry Res. 89, 147–159 (1999).

  47. 47.

    , , & Cognitive function in depression: its relationship to the presence and severity of intellectual decline. Psychol. Med. 24, 829–847 (1994).

  48. 48.

    , & Brain systems and vigilance. In The Attentive Brain (ed. Parasuraman, R.) 221–256 (MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1998).

  49. 49.

    et al. Cortical cholinergic function and deficits in visual attentional performance in rats following 192 IgG-saporin-induced lesions of the medial prefrontal cortex. Cereb. Cortex 14, 922–932 (2004).

  50. 50.

    Varieties of impulsivity. Psychopharmacology (Berl.) 146, 348–361 (1999).

  51. 51.

    , & Prefrontal cortical-ventral striatal interactions involved in affective modulation of attentional performance: implications for corticostriatal circuit function. J. Neurosci. 24, 773–780 (2004).

  52. 52.

    & Visuospatial attention in the rat and posterior parietal cortex lesions. Behav. Brain Res. 79, 69–77 (1996).

  53. 53.

    & Covert orienting of attention in the rat and the role of striatal dopamine. J. Neurosci. 16, 3082–3088 (1996).

  54. 54.

    & Dopaminergic modulation of visual attention and working memory in the rodent prefrontal cortex. Neuropsychopharmacology 29, 1628–1636 (2004).

  55. 55.

    , & Assaying aspects of attention and impulse control in mice using the 5-choice serial reaction time task. In Current Protocols in Neuroscience (eds. Gerfen, C., Holmes, A., Rogawski, M., Sibley, D., Skolnick, P. & Wray, S.) Unit 8.5H, 8.5H.1–8.5H.15, supplement 31 (John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, New Jersey, 2005).

  56. 56.

    et al. Performance norms for a rhesus monkey neuropsychological testing battery: acquisition and long-term performance. Brain Res. Cogn. Brain Res. 8, 185–201 (1999).

  57. 57.

    et al. Performance of the marmoset monkey on computerized tasks of attention and working memory. Brain Res. Cogn. Brain Res. 19, 123–137 (2004).

  58. 58.

    et al. Impulsive choice and impulsive action predict vulnerability to distinct stages of nicotine seeking in rats. Biol. Psychiatry 63, 301–308 (2008).

  59. 59.

    , & Characterisation of the effects of nicotine in the five-choice serial reaction time task in rats: antagonist studies. Psychopharmacology (Berl.) 149, 293–305 (2000).

  60. 60.

    et al. Impairments in impulse control in mice transgenic for the human FTDP-17 tauV337M mutation are exacerbated by age. Hum. Mol. Genet. 16, 1708–1719 (2007).

  61. 61.

    , , , & X-monosomy effects on visuospatial attention in mice: a candidate gene and implications for Turner syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Biol. Psychiatry 61, 1351–1360 (2007).

  62. 62.

    , , , & Modelling impulsivity in adolescent rats. In Abstract Supplement to Journal of Psychopharmachology (ed. Dursun, S.) Vol. 21 A47 (Summer Meeting of the British Association for Psychopharmachology, Harrogate, UK, 2007).

  63. 63.

    , , & 17-Beta estradiol administration attenuates deficits in sustained and divided attention in young ovariectomized rats and aged acyclic female rats. Behav. Neurosci. 120, 1225–1234 (2006).

  64. 64.

    & Nicotine-induced enhancements in the five-choice serial reaction time task in rats are strain-dependent. Psychopharmacology (Berl.) 154, 8–12 (2001).

  65. 65.

    , , & Combined uridine and choline administration improves cognitive deficits in spontaneously hypertensive rats. Neurobiol. Learn. Mem. 80, 63–79 (2003).

  66. 66.

    & Whisker, version 2.2, computer software (2001).

  67. 67.

    et al. Enhanced and impaired attentional performance after infusion of D1 dopaminergic receptor agents into rat prefrontal cortex. J. Neurosci. 20, 1208–1215 (2000).

  68. 68.

    et al. Intra-prefrontal 8-OH-DPAT and M100907 improve visuospatial attention and decrease impulsivity on the five-choice serial reaction time task in rats. Psychopharmacology (Berl.) 167, 304–314 (2003).

  69. 69.

    et al. Comparative effects of ibotenic acid- and quisqualic acid-induced lesions of the substantia innominata on attentional function in the rat: further implications for the role of the cholinergic neurons of the nucleus basalis in cognitive processes. Behav. Brain Res. 35, 221–240 (1989).

  70. 70.

    , & AMPA-induced excitotoxic lesions of the basal forebrain: a significant role for the cortical cholinergic system in attentional function. J. Neurosci. 14, 2313–2326 (1994).

  71. 71.

    & Forebrain norepinephrine: role in controlled information processing in the rat. Neuropsychopharmacology 7, 129–142 (1992).

  72. 72.

    , & Prefrontal executive and cognitive functions in rodents: neural and neurochemical substrates. Neurosci. Biobehav. Rev. 28, 771–784.

Download references

Acknowledgements

This research was supported by a Wellcome Trust programme grant (076274/z/04/z) and completed within the Cambridge University Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute, supported by a joint award from the Medical Research Council (MRC) and Wellcome Trust. A.B. was supported by an MRC studentship. The authors thank Dr Y. Pelloux and Mr D.E. Theobald for assistance.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EB, UK.

    • Andrea Bari
    • , Jeffrey W Dalley
    •  & Trevor W Robbins
  2. Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EB, UK.

    • Andrea Bari
    • , Jeffrey W Dalley
    •  & Trevor W Robbins
  3. Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, UK.

    • Jeffrey W Dalley

Authors

  1. Search for Andrea Bari in:

  2. Search for Jeffrey W Dalley in:

  3. Search for Trevor W Robbins in:

Competing interests

A.B. and J.W.D. declare that they have no competing financial interests. T.W.R. declares that over the past 3 years he has received honorariums from Solvay Pharmaceuticals (Weesp, The Netherlands), Microsoft, Merck, Sharp and Dohme, Lundbeck, and as Editor of Psychopharmacology. T.W.R. also acts as consultant for Glaxo Smith Kline, Eli Lilly Inc. and Allon Therapeutics, and has shares and share options in CeNeS, Cambridge Cognition and Allon Therapeutics. T.W.R. holds research grants with Pfizer and Glaxo Smith Kline.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Trevor W Robbins.

Supplementary information

Videos

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Video 1

    Example of a trained rat doing part of the task with standard baseline parameters

About this article

Publication history

Published

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nprot.2008.41

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.