The spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR) is a widely accepted rodent model of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and methylphenidate (MP) is a central nervous system stimulant that has been shown to have a dose-related positive effect on attention task performance in humans with ADHD. The current study was undertaken to compare SHR to its typical control strain, Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats, on the performance of a Visual Stimulus Position Discrimination Task (VSPDT) as well as of the responsiveness of the two rat strains to MP treatment. The rats were initially trained on the VSPDT, in which a light cue was presented randomly at three different cue-light intervals (1 s, 300 ms and 100 ms) over one of two levers, and presses on the lever corresponding to the light cue were reinforced with a food pellet. Once rats reached stable performance, the treatment phase of the study began, during which they received daily intraperitoneal (IP) injections of saline, 2 mg/kg, 5 mg/kg, and 10 mg/kg of MP in a randomized order immediately prior to being tested on the VSPDT. Baseline performance accuracy on the VSPDT did not differ between the groups. Furthermore, a striking strain dissociation was evident in the response of the two strains to treatment; VSPDT performance was substantially disrupted by the 5 and 10 mg/kg dose in the WKY rats but only mildly in the SHR rats. Response omissions were also increased only in WKY rats. Finally, both strains had increased locomotor activity in the operant chamber following MP treatment. These findings point to an important difference in response tendency to MP in the two strains that supports a view that a critical difference between these strains may suggest neurochemical and neuroadaptive differences associated with the behavioral impairments of ADHD.
- Attention deficit