Schedule-induced polydipsia in the spontaneously hypertensive rat and its relation to impulsive behaviour

Behav Brain Res. 2011 Sep 30;223(1):58-69. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2011.04.017. Epub 2011 Apr 21.


Eight Spontaneously Hypertensive Rat (SHR), 8 Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) and 8 Wistar rats, all male, maintained at 80-85% of their free-feeding weight by controlled access to food, were exposed to a series of fixed time (FT) schedules whereby food pellets were regularly delivered regardless of the animals' behaviour. The FT values used were 9, 15, 30, 60, 120 and 180 s, with the order of presentation of the schedules among the animals being counterbalanced (except under the FT 120-s and 180-s schedules, which were successively presented as the last two of the series). Due to freely available access to water, the animals developed schedule-induced drinking under all FT schedules, marked by the characteristic bitonic function that relates the number of licks and amount of water drunk to the length of the inter-food interval. Wistar and WKY rats displayed maximum drinking under an FT 15-s schedule, with WKY rats registering lower quantities across all FT values. Among SHR rats, maximum schedule-induced polydipsia was observed under the FT 30-s schedule, with a rightward shift in the bitonic function compared to controls. For long FT values, the temporal distribution of licks within inter-food intervals was shifted slightly towards the right in the SHR rats. In a subsequent study, only the SHR and Wistar rats were used, and the animals were exposed to a delay-discounting procedure. The rats were faced with successive choices, in which they could choose between an immediate reward of one food pellet and another of four food pellets at a delay of 3, 6, 12 or 24s. In the case of the longer delays, SHR rats chose the immediate reward of lower magnitude more often than did their Wistar counterparts, and also committed a greater number of omissions during the forced-choice trials of the procedure. The results indicate that differences in schedule-induced polydipsia are related to indexes of cognitive rather than motor impulsivity, a finding in line with the theoretical idea that adjunctive behaviour is linked to operant reinforcement processes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Choice Behavior
  • Drinking Behavior*
  • Impulsive Behavior / psychology*
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred SHR / psychology*
  • Rats, Inbred WKY / psychology
  • Rats, Wistar / psychology
  • Reinforcement Schedule
  • Reward
  • Species Specificity
  • Time Factors