Effects of neonatal excitotoxic lesions in ventral thalamus on social interaction in the rat

  • Rainer WolfEmail author
  • Henrik Dobrowolny
  • Sven Nullmeier
  • Bernhard Bogerts
  • Herbert Schwegler
Original Paper


The role of the thalamus in schizophrenia has increasingly been studied in recent years. Deficits in the ventral thalamus have been described in only few postmortem and neuroimaging studies. We utilised our previously introduced neurodevelopmental animal model, the neonatal excitotoxic lesion of the ventral thalamus of Sprague–Dawley rats (Wolf et al., Pharmacopsychiatry 43:99–109, 22). At postnatal day (PD7), male pubs received bilateral thalamic infusions with ibotenic acid (IBA) or artificial cerebrospinal fluid (control). In adulthood, social interaction of two animals not familiar to each other was studied by a computerised video tracking system. This study displays clear lesion effects on social interaction of adult male rats. The significant reduction of total contact time and the significant increase in distance between the animals in the IBA group compared to controls can be interpreted as social withdrawal modelling a negative symptom of schizophrenia. The significant increase of total distance travelled in the IBA group can be hypothesised as agitation modelling a positive symptom of schizophrenia. Using a triple concept of social interaction, the percentage of no social interaction (Non-SI%) was significantly larger, and inversely, the percentage of passive social interaction (SI-passive%) was significantly smaller in the IBA group when compared to controls. In conclusion, on the background of findings in schizophrenic patients, the effects of neonatal ventral thalamic IBA lesions in adult male rats support the hypothesis of face and construct validity as animal model of schizophrenia.


Schizophrenia Rat Ventral thalamus Ibotenic acid Social interaction Video tracking 



This work was supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research of Germany (BMBF). We would like to thank Mrs. K. Paelchen and Mr. K. Matzke for excellent technical assistance. We declare that the experiments comply with the current laws of Germany.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryRuhr-University BochumBochumGermany
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryOtto-von-Guericke UniversityMagdeburgGermany
  3. 3.Institute of AnatomyOtto-von-Guericke UniversityMagdeburgGermany

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