Impaired acquisition of novel locomotor tasks in aged and norepinephrine-depleted F344 rats

Neurobiol Aging. Jul-Aug 1992;13(4):475-81. doi: 10.1016/0197-4580(92)90075-9.


Performance of rats on a motor learning paradigm that has been demonstrated to be dependent upon cerebellar norepinephrine (NE) was studied in 20-month-old F344 rats. The behavioral task is identical to that described by Watson and McElligott: Rats are trained on a runway consisting of aluminum pegs arranged in a regular pattern. Rats receive a water reward at either end of the runway. Subsequent to training, rats are tested for running times on a runway with irregularly spaced rods. The ability of rats to improve their performance (decrease their running times) on this novel motor task is diminished in young rats that have received 6-hydroxydopamine lesions. Rats at 20 months of age are known to have deficits in cerebellar noradrenergic transmission; thus, the hypothesis to be tested was to determine if aged rats demonstrated performance deficits similar to young rats depleted of central stores of NE. The rate of acquisition of the task was determined by the decrease in running times with successive days of training. The ability of 20-month-old F344 rats to acquire proficiency on the novel motor task was impaired and the rate of acquisition of the novel motor task was not different from the young 6-hydroxydopamine-lesioned rats. In an attempt to distinguish between alterations in motor coordination and motor learning, additional tests of psychomotor performance were assessed for all groups of rats. These tests included a walking on 2.5- and 5-cm rods, speed of running on the motor task, and number and types of mistakes made on the motor learning task.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / psychology*
  • Animals
  • Cerebellum / physiology
  • Conditioning, Operant / physiology*
  • Locomotion / physiology*
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Norepinephrine / physiology*
  • Oxidopamine / pharmacology
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344


  • Oxidopamine
  • Norepinephrine