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Publication Abstract Display
Type: Published Manuscript
Title: HIV transgenic rats demonstrate superior task acquisition and intact reversal learning in the within-session probabilistic reversal learning task.
Authors: Roberts BZ, He YV, Chatha M, Minassian A, Grant I, Young JW
Year: 2021
Publication: Cognitive, Affective & Behavioral Neuroscience
Volume: 21 Issue: 6 Pages: 1207-1221
Abstract:The HIV transgenic (HIVtg) rat is a commonly used animal model of chronic HIV infection that exhibits a wide range of cognitive deficits. To date, relatively little work has been conducted on these rats' capacity for reversal learning, an assay of executive function and cognitive flexibility used in humans. The present study sought to determine the impact of HIV genotype on probabilistic reversal learning, effortful motivation, and spontaneous locomotion/exploration in rats. Male (n = 8) and female (n = 8) HIVtg rats and wildtype (WT) controls were utilized. Cognitive flexibility was assessed via the Probabilistic Reversal Learning Task (PRLT), which reinforced responses to two stimuli on differential probabilistic schedules that periodically reversed. Effortful motivation and locomotor/exploratory behavior were assessed via the Progressive Ratio Breakpoint Task (PRBT) and the Behavioral Pattern Monitor (BPM), respectively. Regardless of sex, HIVtg rats required fewer trials to ascertain initial PRLT reward schedules than WT rats, and completed the same number of reversals. Secondary behaviors suggested that HIVtg PRLT performance was facilitated by a speed-accuracy tradeoff strategy. No main or interactive effects of genotype were observed in the PRBT or BPM. Relative to WT controls, HIVtg rats exhibited superior probabilistic reinforcement learning. Reversal learning was unaffected by HIV genotype, as was effortful motivation and exploratory behavior. These findings contrast with previous characterizations of the HIVtg rat, thus indicating a nuanced cognitive profile that is dependent upon such task specifications as within- versus between-session assessment and probabilistic versus deterministic reward schedules.

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