Reaction time performance reflects the speed of information processing, both in humans and lower vertebrates like the rat. The present study compared reaction time performance in rats following unilateral infarction to the frontal cortex. The objective was to model cognitive impairment as it is seen in humans after stroke. Rats were trained in a reaction time paradigm, after which unilateral cortical infarction was induced photochemically. Reaction time performance was differentially affected after unilateral infarction to either the left or right frontal cortex, whereas sham operation did not result in a significant alteration in reactivity. An overall increase in reaction time of about 10% was present at 4 weeks after frontal infarction. In addition, a lateralized reaction time deficit occurred very early after right frontal infarction as an increase of 10-15% in trials directed towards the contralesional side. Additional analyses showed that these reaction time deficits can be explained differently: the former as a gradual and general decrease in the speed of information processing, whereas the latter shows specific impairment to initiate a contralateral motor response. The former matches well with the mental slowing observed in stroke patients, whereas the latter resembles a neglect phenomenon. We conclude that measuring reaction time performance after frontal cortical infarction in rats could offer a useful tool to model particular human cognitive impairments following cerebral infarction.
Hoff, E. I., Blokland, A., Rutten, K., Steinbusch, H. W., & van Oostenbrugge, R. J. (2006). Dissociable effects in reaction time performance after unilateral cerebral infarction: a comparison between the left and right frontal cortices in rats. Brain Research, 1069(1), 182-189. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brainres.2005.11.070