Abnormal air righting behaviour in the spontaneously hypertensive rat model of ADHD

Dommett, Eleanor J. and Rostron, Claire L. (2011). Abnormal air righting behaviour in the spontaneously hypertensive rat model of ADHD. Experimental Brain Research, 215(1) pp. 45–52.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00221-011-2869-7


The spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR) is the most commonly used model of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), displaying the main symptoms of the disorder which are responsive to psychostimulant treatments. Research to date has focused on behavioural tests investigating functioning of the striatum or prefrontal cortex in these rats. However, there is now evidence that the superior colliculus, a structure associated with head and eye movements, may also be dysfunctional in ADHD. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate whether the SHR demonstrated impairment in collicular-dependent behaviour. To this end, we examined air righting behaviour, which has previously been shown to be modulated in a height-dependent manner reliant on a functional superior colliculus. We assessed SHR, Wistar Kyotos and Wistars on static righting and air righting at 50 and 10 cm drop heights. There were no differences in static righting, indicating that there were no gross motor differences that would confound air righting. Qualitative analysis of video footage of the righting did not reveal any changes previously associated with collicular damage, unique to the SHR. However, the SHR did show impairment in height-dependent modulation of righting in contrast to both control strains, such that the SHR failed to modulate righting latency according to drop height. This failure is indicative of collicular abnormality. Given that many rodent tests of attentional mechanisms involve head and eye orienting, which are heavily dependent on the colliculus, a collicular dysfunction has strong implications for the type of attentional task used in this strain.

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