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Pharmaceutical Effects of Ketamine on Rat Performance in the Traveling Salesperson Task

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The Traveling Salesman Problem (TSP) -- a task in which the goal is to select the shortest possible route between a series of targets -- has been used to study spatial cognition and memory in both human and non-human subjects. Ketamine, a non-competitive antagonist of NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) channels, is a drug commonly used to induce dissociative anaesthesia. Recently, subanesthetic doses of ketamine have shown to suppress feelings of anxiety, fear, and depression in subjects, and was approved as a pharmaceutical treatment for severe major depressive disorder (MDD). In order to assess the long-term effects of this drug on cognition, our two-part study examines subanesthetic doses of ketamine on rat TSP performance. First, we familiarized and pre-trained rats to human handling as well as the TSP task. During testing, rats were placed in an arena with a specific spatial configuration of baited targets. Their performance was video- recorded and coded for various behavioral measures such as latency and memory span. In Experiment 1, rats were administered a subcutaneous injection of either saline or ketamine hydrochloride (5mg/kg) minutes prior to testing. Preliminary data shows significant differences in TSP performance between control and ketamine-dosed rats. In Experiment 2, rats were administered subcutaneous injections of either saline or ketamine hydrochloride (5mg/kg) daily a week prior to testing, as well as the week of testing. Our goal is to better understand the cognitive mechanisms involved in the TSP, as well as characterize any cognitive deficits that may be produced by acute or chronic ketamine exposure.

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Pharmaceutical Effects of Ketamine on Rat Performance in the Traveling Salesperson Task

The Traveling Salesman Problem (TSP) -- a task in which the goal is to select the shortest possible route between a series of targets -- has been used to study spatial cognition and memory in both human and non-human subjects. Ketamine, a non-competitive antagonist of NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) channels, is a drug commonly used to induce dissociative anaesthesia. Recently, subanesthetic doses of ketamine have shown to suppress feelings of anxiety, fear, and depression in subjects, and was approved as a pharmaceutical treatment for severe major depressive disorder (MDD). In order to assess the long-term effects of this drug on cognition, our two-part study examines subanesthetic doses of ketamine on rat TSP performance. First, we familiarized and pre-trained rats to human handling as well as the TSP task. During testing, rats were placed in an arena with a specific spatial configuration of baited targets. Their performance was video- recorded and coded for various behavioral measures such as latency and memory span. In Experiment 1, rats were administered a subcutaneous injection of either saline or ketamine hydrochloride (5mg/kg) minutes prior to testing. Preliminary data shows significant differences in TSP performance between control and ketamine-dosed rats. In Experiment 2, rats were administered subcutaneous injections of either saline or ketamine hydrochloride (5mg/kg) daily a week prior to testing, as well as the week of testing. Our goal is to better understand the cognitive mechanisms involved in the TSP, as well as characterize any cognitive deficits that may be produced by acute or chronic ketamine exposure.