The application of the 5-choice serial reaction time task for the assessment of visual attentional processes and impulse control in rats

Nat Protoc. 2008;3(5):759-67. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2008.41.


One popular way of measuring visual attentional processes in the rat is using 5-choice serial reaction time task (5-CSRTT). This paradigm requires subjects to detect brief flashes of light presented in a pseudorandom order in one of five spatial locations over a large number of trials. For this task, the animals are trained for approximately 30-40 daily sessions during which they gradually learn to respond in the appropriate aperture within a certain amount of time. If they fail to respond, respond in the wrong hole or at an inappropriate time, a short period of darkness (time-out) is presented as punishment and no reward is delivered. The 5-CSRTT provides the possibility to test the effects of various neural, pharmacological and behavioral manipulations on discrete and somewhat independent measures of behavioral control, including accuracy of discrimination, impulsivity, perseverative responses and response latencies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Choice Behavior / physiology*
  • Impulsive Behavior / diagnosis*
  • Neuropsychological Tests*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Rats
  • Reaction Time / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*