Nicotine enhances stimulus detection performance of middle- and old-aged rats: a longitudinal study.
The effects of nicotine on sustained attention were tested in F344xBN male rats when they were chronologically middle and old aged. The rats (n = 11) were trained in a two-choice, stimulus detection task in which a press of one of two levers was reinforced with food, with the correct lever indicated by the position of a briefly illuminated light. They were tested when they were 24-25 and 34-35 months of age (i.e., at 60-68% and 85-95%, respectively of their expected median life span) after saline or 0.1-0.5 mg/kg doses of nicotine (SC). A significant dose-related improvement in percent correct choices and decrease in choice response times was found at both ages, and there was no significant main effect of age or an age by dose interaction. These results support the position that nicotine can enhance attentional processes in rats throughout their life span. Nicotine and other nicotinic agonists may have efficacy in the treatment of disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.
Grilly, DM; Simon, BB; Levin, ED
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