A neurotoxic regimen of methamphetamine impairs novelty recognition as measured by a social odor-based task

Behav Brain Res. 2011 Jan 1;216(1):396-401. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2010.08.022. Epub 2010 Aug 24.


Repeated administration of methamphetamine (mAMPH) to rodents in a single-day "binge" regimen damages forebrain monoaminergic nerve terminals and produces subsequent cognitive deficits. Here we investigate performance on a social odor-based task, demonstrating enduring mAMPH-induced deficits in recognition memory. Three weeks after a neurotoxic mAMPH regimen, singly-housed male Long-Evans rats had four wooden beads placed in their home cage: three beads containing odors from their home cage (HC beads) and one bead from a cage of a rat not present in the colony room (N1 bead). Exploration times for each bead were recorded during three 1-min habituation trials separated by 1-min intertrial intervals. Twenty-four hours later, a 1-min memory test was conducted, in which animals were presented with two HC beads, one N1 bead, and one bead from another novel animal (N2). Saline- and mAMPH-treated rats showed similar, progressive decreases in exploration time for the N1 bead during the habituation trials, indicating equivalent short-term olfactory habituation to the novel odor. By contrast, during the subsequent memory test, saline-treated rats showed a strong preference for the N2 bead over the N1 bead while mAMPH-treated rats showed no preference. The use of the rats' primary sensory modality (olfaction) coupled with the social significance (from conspecifics) of the odors produces strong, long-lasting memories. Our results show that prior treatment with a neurotoxic regimen of mAMPH impairs long-term memory for the previously experienced odors. As compared with previously employed object recognition tasks, this test may be advantageous for investigating mAMPH-induced memory impairments in rodents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Autoradiography
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / pharmacology
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Exploratory Behavior / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Methamphetamine / pharmacology*
  • Odorants
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Recognition, Psychology / drug effects*
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology
  • Smell / drug effects


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Sert1 protein, rat
  • Methamphetamine