, Volume 97, Issue 2, pp 262-268

Specific modulation of social memory in rats by cholinomimetic and nootropic drugs, by benzodiazepine inverse agonists, but not by psychostimulants

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The recognition of an unfamiliar juvenile rat by an adult rat has been shown to imply short-term memory processes. In this study the effect of various psychotropic drugs on this investigatory behaviour was examined. The procedure was as follows: an unfamiliar juvenile rat was placed in the home cage of an adult rat for 5 min. The time spent by the adult rat in investigating the juvenile was recorded. The adult rat was then immediately treated with vehicle or test compounds, and was again exposed for 5 min to the same juvenile 2 h later. At this time point vehicle-treated rats no longer recognized the juvenile rat, i.e. the time of investigation was similar to that observed during the first presentation. Arecoline (1 and 3 mg/kg IP), physostigmine (0.05 and 0.1 mg/kg SC), RS86 (0.5 mg/IP) and nicotine (0.125 and 0.5 mg/kg IP) reduced in a dose-dependent fashion the time spent in investigating the juvenile during the second exposure. This result cannot be attributed to nonspecific effects, since it was not observed when a different juvenile was used for the second exposure. The effect of arecoline was reversed by scopolamine, but not by methylscopolamine. Aniracetam reduced investigatory behaviour at the dose of 50 mg/kg IP. FG 7142 (5 mg/kg IP) and β-CCM (0.4 mg/kg IP) were also active and their effect was reversed by Ro 15-1788. dl-Amphetamine (0.5 and 1 mg/kg IP), nomifensine (1.25–10 mg/kg IP) and strychnine (0.25 and 0.5 mg/kg IP) were ineffective or reduced this behaviour unspecifically. Social recognition may therefore represent a useful and simple test to detect compounds which enhance short-term, olfactory, memory and to assess in the same animals the specificity of this activity.