Models of Attention

5 Choice Serial Reaction Time Task.  The 5CSRTT is an animal model of sustained spatial attention. Attention is accessed in an operant chamber modified with five nose-poke holes on a curved wall at the rear of the chamber. On the opposite wall is a pellet dispenser that delivers food reward (45 mg Bioserv pellets).  Each nose-poke hole is equipped with a stimulus light. The basic task tests the ability of the rat to sustain attention divided among 5 locations over a large number of trials (100).  On each trial one of 5 stimulus lights within the nose poke hole is briefly illuminated (0.5 to 1 sec).  Rats are trained to respond with a nose-poke in the hole where the stimulus light was illuminated within 5 sec.  Correct responses are rewarded with a food pellet.  The duration and intensity of the stimulus light can be varied as can the ITI.  Attention is measured by accuracy of stimulus detection.  Additional measures include response inhibitory control (premature responses), perserveration (repeated responding in the illuminated hole) and response latency.  Sessions are typically 100 trials over 30 min.  Rats are trained 5 days/week until they reach some predetermined criterion. Training generally involves 30 to 40 sessions.

The Rat Neurobehavioral Laboratory (RNL) has 12 operant chambers configured to test 5CSRTT manufactured by Med Associates.  Each test chamber measures approximates 10.5” wide and 9.5” deep and is enclosed in a 25 X 24“sound attenuating chamber.  Nose-poke holes are 1” square with the center approximately 1.5” above the grid floor.