Chronic amphetamine treatment affects collicular-dependent behaviour

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Distractibility can be defined as an attention deficit where orientation toward irrelevant targets cannot be inhibited. There is now mounting evidence that the superior colliculus is a key neural correlate of distractibility, with increased collicular-activity resulting in heightened distractibility. Heightened distractibility is reduced by amphetamine, which acutely suppresses collicular responsiveness. However, when amphetamine is used to treat distractibility, it is given chronically, yet no data exist on whether chronic amphetamine treatment affects the colliculus. Here, the effect of chronic amphetamine treatment was assessed in healthy hooded lister rats on two collicular dependent behaviours following a twenty-eight day treatment period: i) orienting to visual stimuli, and ii) height-dependent modulation of air-righting. We found no significant impact of amphetamine treatment on visual orienting despite showing dose-dependent decreases in orienting to repeated stimuli. However, we did find that treatment with amphetamine significantly reduced the ability to modulate righting according to the height the animal is dropped from – a function known to be dependent on the colliculus. We suggest that the results are in line with previous research showing acute amphetamine suppresses collicular activity and we speculate that the psychostimulant may increase receptive field size, altering time-to-impact calculations carried out by the colliculus during air-righting.

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