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Understanding the common dimension of mental disorders (such as anxiety, depression, and drug addiction) might contribute to the construction of biological frameworks (Research Domain Criteria, RDoC) for novel ways of treatment. One common dimension at the behavioral level observed across these disorders is a generalization. Testing generalization in serotonin transporter (5-HTT) knockout (KO) rats, an animal model showing depression/anxiety-like behaviors and drug addiction-like behaviors, could therefore provide more insights into this framework. We tested the outcome and stimulus generalization in wild-type (WT) and 5-HTT KO rats. Using a newly established touchscreen-based task, subjects directly responded to visual stimuli (Gabor patch images). We measured the response time and outcome in a precise manner. We found that 5-HTT KO rats processed visual information faster than WT rats during outcome generalization. Interestingly, during stimulus generalization, WT rats gradually responded faster to the stimuli as the sessions progressed, while 5-HTT KO rats responded faster than WT in the initial sessions and did not change significantly as the sessions progressed. This observation suggests that KO rats, compared to WT rats, may be less able to update changes in information. Taken together, KO 5-HTT modulates information processing when the environment changes.


Chao Ciu-Gwok Guo, Tao He, Joanes Grandjean, Judith Homberg. Knockout serotonin transporter in rats moderates outcome and stimulus generalization. Translational psychiatry. 2021 Jan 07;11(1):25

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PMID: 33414390

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