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Behav Brain Res. 2006 Nov 1;174(1):151-9. Epub 2006 Aug 28.

A choice reaction-time task in the rat: a new model using air-puff stimuli and lever-release responses.

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Institute for Human Science and Biomedical Engineering, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), AIST Tsukuba Central 6, Higashi, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8566, Japan.


We have developed a two-lever choice reaction-time (RT) task to investigate the behavioral and neural mechanisms of stimulus-response compatibility in rats. In the task, the rat pressed two levers with its forepaws during the preparation period of each trial, and then quickly responded to an air-puff stimulus on its left or right forepaw by releasing the lever on the same side (compatible condition) or the opposite side (incompatible condition) of the stimulus. Twenty rats successfully learned the task in both the compatible and incompatible conditions. Two stimulus-response compatibility effects were observed: the RT was shorter and the error rate was lower in the compatible condition than in the incompatible condition. The trial sequence also affected the results and a speed-accuracy tradeoff was observed. These results are consistent with those reported for human RT tasks. Furthermore, a lesion in the forepaw-sensorimotor cortex caused increases in the RTs for stimulus detection and/or response movement with the contralateral forepaw, suggesting that the task was mediated by this brain area. We conclude that this instrumental task for rats can be regarded as a model for human RT tasks and can be used to investigate the neural basis of the compatibility effects.

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