The effects of ondansetron, a 5-HT3 receptor antagonist, on cognition in rodents and primates

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1990 Apr;35(4):955-62. doi: 10.1016/0091-3057(90)90385-u.


The selective 5-HT3 receptor antagonist, onansetron, has been assessed in three tests of cognition in the mouse, rat and marmoset. In a habituation test in the mouse, ondansetron facilitated performance in young adult and aged animals, and inhibited an impairment in habituation induced by scopolamine, electrolesions or ibotenic acid lesions of the nucleus basalis magnocellularis. Arecoline failed to improve basal performance in young adult mice but inhibited the impairment caused by scopolamine and lesions of the nucleus basalis magnocellularis. In the T-maze reinforced alternation task in rats, ondansetron and arecoline antagonised a scopolamine-induced impairment. In an object discrimination and reversal learning task in the marmoset, assessed using a Wisconsin General Test Apparatus, ondansetron improved performance in a reversal learning task. We conclude that ondansetron potently improves basal performance in rodent and primate tests of cognition and inhibits the impairments in performance caused by cholinergic deficits.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / psychology*
  • Animals
  • Arecoline / pharmacology
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / enzymology
  • Callithrix
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase / analysis
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Habituation, Psychophysiologic / drug effects
  • Imidazoles / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Ondansetron
  • Random Allocation
  • Rats
  • Scopolamine / pharmacology
  • Serotonin Antagonists*
  • Single-Blind Method


  • Imidazoles
  • Serotonin Antagonists
  • Ondansetron
  • Arecoline
  • Scopolamine
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase