RATIONALE: Continuous performance tests (CPTs) are widely used to assess attentional processes in a variety of disorders including Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia. Common human CPTs require discrimination of sequentially presented, visually patterned 'target' and 'non-target' stimuli at a single location. OBJECTIVES: The aims of this study were to evaluate the performance of three popular mouse strains on a novel rodent touchscreen test (rCPT) designed to be analogous to common human CPT variants and to investigate the effects of donepezil, a cholinesterase inhibitor and putative cognitive enhancer. METHODS: C57BL/6J, DBA/2J and CD1 mice (n = 15-16/strain) were trained to baseline performance using four rCPT training stages. Then, probe tests assessed the effects of parameter changes on task performance: stimulus size, duration, contrast, probability, inter-trial interval or inclusion of flanker distractors. rCPT performance was also evaluated following acute administration of donepezil (0-3 mg/kg, i.p.). RESULTS: C57BL/6J and DBA/2J mice showed similar acquisition rates and final baseline performance following rCPT training. On probe tests, rCPT performance of both strains was sensitive to alteration of visual and/or attentional demands (stimulus size, duration, contrast, rate, flanker distraction). Relative to C57BL/6J, DBA/2J mice exhibited (1) decreasing sensitivity (d') across the 45-min session, (2) reduced performance on probes where the appearance of stimuli or adjacent areas were changed (size, contrast, flanking distractors) and (3) larger dose- and stimulus duration-dependent changes in performance following donepezil administration. In contrast, CD1 mice failed to acquire rCPT (stage 3) and pairwise visual discrimination tasks. CONCLUSIONS: rCPT is a potentially useful translational tool for assessing attention in mice and for detecting the effects of nootropic drugs.
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Continuous performance test, Donepezil, Mouse, Mouse strain differences, Touchscreen operant chamber, Animals, Attention, Cholinesterase Inhibitors, Conditioning, Operant, Discrimination (Psychology), Discrimination Learning, Drug Evaluation, Preclinical, Humans, Indans, Male, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Mice, Inbred DBA, Nootropic Agents, Piperidines, Psychomotor Performance, Species Specificity, Visual Perception