Effects of anterior cingulate cortex lesions on a continuous performance task for mice.

01 Jun 2018

Important tools in the study of prefrontal cortical-dependent executive functions are cross-species behavioural tasks with translational validity. A widely used test of executive function and attention in humans is the continuous performance task (CPT). Optimal performance in variations of this task is associated with activity along the medial wall of the prefrontal cortex, including the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), for its essential components such as response control, target detection and processing of false alarm errors. We assess the validity of a recently developed rodent touchscreen continuous performance task (rCPT) that is analogous to typical human CPT procedures. Here we evaluate the performance of mice with quinolinic acid-induced lesions centred on the ACC in the rCPT following a range of task parameter manipulations designed to challenge attention and impulse control. Lesioned mice showed a disinhibited response profile expressed as a decreased response criterion and increased false alarm rates. ACC lesions also resulted in a milder increase in inter-trial interval responses ('ITI touches') and hit rate. Lesions did not affect discriminative sensitivity d'. The disinhibited behaviour of ACC lesioned animals was stable and not affected by the manipulation of variable task parameter manipulations designed to increase task difficulty. The results are in general agreement with human studies implicating the ACC in the processing of inappropriate responses. We conclude that the rCPT may be useful for studying prefrontal cortex function in mice and has the capability of providing meaningful links between animal and human cognitive tasks.