★ We assessed attentional processing in developmental vitamin D (DVD) deficient rats. ★ The performance of DVD-deficient rats was not altered on 5C-SRT. ★ DVD-deficient rats showed response inhibition deficits on 5C-CPT. ★ Clozapine reversed the deficits in DVD-deficient rats.
Evidence from epidemiological studies suggest that low levels of vitamin D during early life alter brain development and may increase the risk of various adverse health outcomes, including schizophrenia. The aim of this experiment was to examine the effect of developmental vitamin D (DVD) deficiency on attentional processing using the 5-choice serial reaction time task (5C-SRT) and the 5-choice continuous performance test (5C-CPT), which specifically assesses sustained attention and vigilance in rodents. DVD-deficient and control rats were exposed to a series of target and non-target trials within each operant testing session. A number of measures were recorded including hit, miss, false alarm and correct rejection, as well as premature and perseverative responses. Performance on 5C-CPT was also assessed after administration of the atypical antipsychotic, clozapine. The adult offspring of DVD-deficient rats had higher levels of impulsivity, as demonstrated by a significant increase in premature responses. On the 5C-SRT and target trials of the 5C-CPT, accuracy was not significantly affected by prenatal diet; however DVD-deficient rats made 50% fewer correct rejections compared to controls on non-target trials of the 5C-CPT. Thus, control rats were able to discriminate between target and non-target trials, whereas DVD-deficient rats were unable to make this discrimination. Clozapine reduced the occurrence of false alarms in DVD-deficient rats to a level comparable to control values. Taken together these data suggest DVD-deficient rats have increased impulsivity as well as a lack of inhibitory control, and these features may be informative in terms of modeling the cognitive deficits observed in schizophrenia.