The cognitive deficits associated with schizophrenia are recognized as a core component of the disorder, yet there remain no available therapeutics to treat these symptoms of the disease. As a result, there is a need for establishing predictive preclinical models to identify the therapeutic potential of novel compounds. In the present study, rhesus monkeys were trained in the object retrieval-detour task, which is dependent on the prefrontal cortex, a brain region implicated in the cognitive deficits associated with schizophrenia. The NMDA receptor antagonist ketamine significantly impaired performance without affecting measures of motor or visuospatial abilities. Pre-treatment with the nicotinic α7 agonist GTS-21 (0.03 mg/kg) significantly attenuated the ketamine-induced impairment, consistent with reports from clinical trials suggesting that nicotinic α7 receptor agonism has pro-cognitive potential in clinical populations. In contrast, pretreatment with the acetylcholinesterase inhibitor donepezil failed to reverse the ketamine-induced impairment, consistent with studies showing a lack of pro-cognitive effects in patients with schizophrenia. These data suggest that the ketamine-impaired object retrieval-detour task could provide a model with improved predictive validity for drug development, and confirm the need for additional efforts in back-translation. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled 'Cognitive Enhancers'.
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