Methylphenidate is a psychostimulant widely used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Here we report a novel paradigm that affords inferences about habituation and attention to a novel stimulus in a familiar environment in a single test session without prior training of the animals. The paradigm was used to assess the effects of methylphenidate (2.5 and 5.0 mg/kg, sc) in young adult, male, Long-Evans rats. Methylphenidate increased locomotor activity during the initial exposure to the test apparatus in a non-dose-related manner. However, upon introduction of a novel spatial stimulus (an alcove) in the familiar environment, methylphenidate-treatment resulted in dose-related increases in distance traveled and inhibition of long dwell times in the alcove, the latter behavior being characteristic of vehicle-treated rats’ response to the alcove condition. These results demonstrate the utility of this paradigm in the elucidation of the behavioral effects of a drug commonly used in the treatment of ADHD. Findings also suggest that species-typical response preferences in rats (e.g., refuge-seeking) may emerge in experimental settings that add spatial novelty to otherwise featureless test enclosures commonly used to assess locomotor activity.
Fowler, S. C., Zarcone, T. J., & Levant, B. (2010). METHYLPHENIDATE ATTENUATES RATS’ PREFERENCE FOR A NOVEL SPATIAL STIMULUS INTRODUCED INTO A FAMILIAR ENVIRONMENT: ASSESSMENT USING A FORCE PLATE ACTOMETER. Journal of Neuroscience Methods, 189(1), 36–43. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jneumeth.2010.03.014