Resilient and depressive-like rats show distinct cognitive impairments in the touchscreen paired-associates learning (PAL) task

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  • Lena-Sophie Martis, Centre for Cardiovascular Science, Queen's Medical Research Institute, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom.
  • ,
  • Claudia Brision
  • ,
  • Megan C Holmes, Centre for Cardiovascular Science, Queen's Medical Research Institute, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom; Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom.
  • ,
  • Ove Wiborg, Department of Health Science and Technology, Aalborg University, Denmark

Depression-associated cognitive impairments persist after remission from affective symptoms of major depressive disorder (MDD), decreasing quality of life and increasing risk of relapse in patients. Conventional antidepressants are ineffective in restoring cognitive functions. Therefore, novel antidepressants with improved efficacy for ameliorating cognitive symptoms are required. For tailoring such antidepressants, translational animal models are in demand. The chronic mild stress (CMS) model is a well-validated preclinical model of depression and known for eliciting the MDD core symptom "anhedonia" in stress-susceptible rats. Thus, cognitive performance was assessed in rats susceptible (depressive-like) or resilient to CMS and in unchallenged controls. The rodent analogue of the human touchscreen Paired-Associates Learning (PAL) task was used for cognitive assessment. Both stress groups exhibited a lack of response inhibition compared to controls while only the depressive-like group was impaired in task acquisition. The results indicate that cognitive deficits specifically associate with the anhedonic-like state rather than being a general consequence of stress exposure. Hence, we propose that the application of a translational touchscreen task on the etiologically valid CMS model, displaying depression-associated cognitive impairments, provides a novel platform for pro-cognitive and clinically pertinent antidepressant drug screening.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNeurobiology of Learning and Memory
Pages (from-to)287-296
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018

    Research areas

  • Chronic mild stress (CMS), Cognitive impairments, Depression, Paired-associates learning (PAL), Preclinical touchscreen task, Resilience

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