Behavioral assessment of visual deficits in the taiep mutant
CM Bloom,1 RJ Post,1,2 AM Anch,3 DG Davenport3
1Department of Psychology, 2Department of Biology, Providence College, Providence, RI, USA; 3Department of Psychology, Saint Louis University, St Louis, MO, USA
Abstract: Taiep (tremor, ataxia, immobility, epilepsy, paralysis) mutants show a significant increase in myelin thickness from 10 to 30 days of age but then demonstrate a decrease in myelin thickness from 1 to 6 months. The severity of the demyelination in the optic nerve suggests that visual deficits may exist in the taiep mutants. Animals were trained on a discrimination task, in which responses to a light stimulus (the SD period) were reinforced on a fixed ratio (FR)-1 schedule, and responses in the absence of the light stimulus (the S∆ period) were not reinforced. Following training, the light intensity presented during the SD period was gradually reduced between sessions until -6.0 candela/m2 was reached. Both groups of animals – taiep mutants and control Sprague Dawley rats – successfully recognized and responded in the presence of the stimulus near perfectly by the final day of training, suggesting that taiep mutants demonstrated normal learning, at least under this paradigm. Despite the severe demyelination of the taiep optic nerve, no visual deficits were detected as both groups of animals performed similarly as the light intensity decreased. Though the myelin loss of the optic nerve may have negatively affected signal transduction, this did not result in an increase in visual threshold.
Keywords: psychophysics, taiep, myelin, discrimination learning, neurodegenerative disease
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