Spontaneously hypertensive, Wistar Kyoto and Sprague–Dawley rats differ in their use of place and response strategies in the water radial arm maze

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Abstract

This study further characterises the use of mnemonic systems in the spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR), which is frequently used as a rodent model of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The objective of this study was to assess the preference of male SHR, Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) and Sprague–Dawley (SD) rats for a place or response strategy when trained on an ambiguous T-maze task, and also to examine whether all strains acquired information about both strategies during ambiguous training, regardless of their preferred strategy. In the first experiment, SHR and WKY showed a preference for a response strategy on the ambiguous T-maze task; in contrast, SD displayed a preference for a place strategy. In the second experiment, all strains demonstrated that they learned information about both the response and place strategies during ambiguous training. However, on a conditioned place preference test SHR did not display as strong a preference for the place arm as WKY and SD. This finding supports previous research in a conditioned cue preference test, in which SHR did not display a preference for the cue associated with the platform. These observations that the strains differ with respect to behavioural strategy in a learning task suggest that they differ in the underlying neural circuitry that serves goal-directed behaviour, and are consistent with SHR having deficits associated with the nucleus accumbens.

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