Development of a Method for Assessing Divided Attention in a Rodent Model of ADHD

Alicia Twisselmann Saint Mary's College
Faculty Sponsor(s): Teresa Aubele-Futch Saint Mary's College
There are four types of attention that allow individuals to focus and process the information available to them, one of which is divided attention. Also known as multitasking, divided attention describes the maintenance of mental focus on two or more tasks at the same time. Divided attention is used often; however, the neuropsychological assessment of this type of attention in rodents is currently lacking. In fact, only one method has been published that assesses this specific cognitive task in rodents, (Arnold, Bruno and Sarter 2003), and that paradigm has never been used in the Spontaneously Hypertensive Rat (SHR) model of ADHD. Thus, here, we build off of this previously published method and adapt it for use with this widely accepted rodent model. Briefly, SHR rats and their controls (WKY) were trained on two operant rulesets, learning to discriminate a steady versus pulsing light, and a steady verus pulsing sound by pressing one of two available levers. After each ruleset was learned independently, all four options were presented randomly. The previous method was adapted by changing the rate of light pulsing to accommodate the poor vision of albino rodents, and learning was scaffolded by the addition of corrective trials as animals learned the original rulesets. After these methodological adaptations, two rats (one SHR and one WKY animal) were able to complete the entire paradigm, confirming that the method does indeed work. The development of this paradigm will allow for future research into this attentional realm in the ADHD model animal.
Oral Presentation

When & Where

10:30 AM
Pharmacy & Health Sciences 156