• Isolation rearing impairs novel object recognition and attentional set shifting performance in female rats

      McLean, Samantha L.; Grayson, Ben; Harris, M.; Protheroe, C.; Bate, S.; Woolley, M.L.; Neill, Joanna C. (2010-01)
      It has been suggested that the isolation rearing paradigm models certain aspects of schizophrenia symptomatology. This study aimed to investigate whether isolation rearing impairs rats’ performance in two models of cognition: the novel object recognition (NOR) and attentional set-shifting tasks, tests of episodic memory and executive function, respectively. Two cohorts of female Hooded-Lister rats were used in these experiments. Animals were housed in social isolation or in groups of five from weaning, post-natal day 28. The first cohort was tested in the NOR test with inter-trial intervals (ITIs) of 1 min up to 6 h. The second cohort was trained and tested in the attentional set-shifting task. In the NOR test, isolates were only able to discriminate between the novel and familiar objects up to 1-h ITI, whereas socially reared animals remembered the familiar object up to a 4-h ITI. In the attentional set-shifting task, isolates were significantly and selectively impaired in the extra-dimensional shift phase of the task (P < 0.01). Rats reared in isolation show impaired episodic memory in the NOR task and reduced ability to shift attention between stimulus dimensions in the attentional set-shifting task. Because schizophrenic patients show similar deficits in performance in these cognitive domains, these data further support isolation rearing as a putative preclinical model of the cognitive deficits associated with schizophrenia.