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Touchscreen-paradigm for mice reveals cross-species evidence for an antagonistic relationship of cognitive flexibility and stability.

Richter SH, Vogel AS, Ueltzhöffer K, Muzzillo C, Vogt MA, Lankisch K, Armbruster-Genç DJ, Riva MA, Fiebach CJ, Gass P, Vollmayr B - Front Behav Neurosci (2014)

Bottom Line: Recently, a novel human paradigm has found individual differences of cognitive flexibility and stability to be related to common prefrontal networks.Importantly, subjects switching more often spontaneously were found to be more distractible by task irrelevant cues, but also more flexible in situations, where switching was required.These results support a dichotomy of cognitive flexibility and stability as predicted by the Dual State Theory.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Animal Models in Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim, Heidelberg University Mannheim, Germany ; Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience Heidelberg/Mannheim, Germany.

ABSTRACT
The abilities to either flexibly adjust behavior according to changing demands (cognitive flexibility) or to maintain it in the face of potential distractors (cognitive stability) are critical for adaptive behavior in many situations. Recently, a novel human paradigm has found individual differences of cognitive flexibility and stability to be related to common prefrontal networks. The aims of the present study were, first, to translate this paradigm from humans to mice and, second, to test conceptual predictions of a computational model of prefrontal working memory mechanisms, the Dual State Theory, which assumes an antagonistic relation between cognitive flexibility and stability. Mice were trained in a touchscreen-paradigm to discriminate visual cues. The task involved "ongoing" and cued "switch" trials. In addition distractor cues were interspersed to test the ability to resist distraction, and an ambiguous condition assessed the spontaneous switching between two possible responses without explicit cues. While response times did not differ substantially between conditions, error rates (ER) increased from the "ongoing" baseline condition to the most complex condition, where subjects were required to switch between two responses in the presence of a distracting cue. Importantly, subjects switching more often spontaneously were found to be more distractible by task irrelevant cues, but also more flexible in situations, where switching was required. These results support a dichotomy of cognitive flexibility and stability as predicted by the Dual State Theory. Furthermore, they replicate critical aspects of the human paradigm, which indicates the translational potential of the testing procedure and supports the use of touchscreen procedures in preclinical animal research.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Error rates in the STABFLEX test. The error rates were calculated on the basis of the number of incorrect touches divided by the total number of trials per condition. Conditions were compared using a repeated measures ANOVA with “condition” as within-subjects factor and subsequent Bonferroni-corrected post-hoc analyses. Data are presented separately for the four experimental conditions as means ± standard error of the mean. *p ≤ 0.05.
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Figure 6: Error rates in the STABFLEX test. The error rates were calculated on the basis of the number of incorrect touches divided by the total number of trials per condition. Conditions were compared using a repeated measures ANOVA with “condition” as within-subjects factor and subsequent Bonferroni-corrected post-hoc analyses. Data are presented separately for the four experimental conditions as means ± standard error of the mean. *p ≤ 0.05.

Mentions: Testing was successfully done with 50 trials per day on 14 successive days in all mice, yielding a total amount of 700 trials per animal. Although animals were not required to reach a specific learning criterion during the testing phase, the overall success rates were similar to those of the final training phase, indicating robust performances over time. With a mean of 79.3% the overall success rate (= correct choices/700) ranged from 67.5 to 89.1% (Table 2). Except of one animal that did not reach the 70% mark, mice solved the task correctly in at least 75% of all trials, demonstrating constantly good performance abilities also during the testing phase. In addition to the overall success rate, behavioral performance in the testing phase was separately analyzed for each condition (“ongoing,” “switch,” “distractor ongoing,” “distractor switch,” “ambiguous”) using both response times and ER. Concerning the response times, only minimal differences were observed between the five testing conditions, ranging from a mean latency of 1.9 s in the “distractor ongoing” condition to 2.1 s in the “ambiguous” condition (Table 3). Accordingly, the observed differences between response times of the specific event conditions and the “ongoing” condition did not exceed ± 130 ms. Notably, we observed negative response time costs in the distractor conditions, indicating that on average it took the mice slightly longer to respond to the “ongoing” than to the “distractor ongoing” and the “distractor switch” conditions (Table 3). By contrast, ER clearly differed between the conditions in the expected way, with only 18.6% in the “ongoing” condition and 28.8% in the “distractor switch” condition, probably reflecting an increasing degree of difficulty (Figure 6).


Touchscreen-paradigm for mice reveals cross-species evidence for an antagonistic relationship of cognitive flexibility and stability.

Richter SH, Vogel AS, Ueltzhöffer K, Muzzillo C, Vogt MA, Lankisch K, Armbruster-Genç DJ, Riva MA, Fiebach CJ, Gass P, Vollmayr B - Front Behav Neurosci (2014)

Error rates in the STABFLEX test. The error rates were calculated on the basis of the number of incorrect touches divided by the total number of trials per condition. Conditions were compared using a repeated measures ANOVA with “condition” as within-subjects factor and subsequent Bonferroni-corrected post-hoc analyses. Data are presented separately for the four experimental conditions as means ± standard error of the mean. *p ≤ 0.05.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4017158&req=5

Figure 6: Error rates in the STABFLEX test. The error rates were calculated on the basis of the number of incorrect touches divided by the total number of trials per condition. Conditions were compared using a repeated measures ANOVA with “condition” as within-subjects factor and subsequent Bonferroni-corrected post-hoc analyses. Data are presented separately for the four experimental conditions as means ± standard error of the mean. *p ≤ 0.05.
Mentions: Testing was successfully done with 50 trials per day on 14 successive days in all mice, yielding a total amount of 700 trials per animal. Although animals were not required to reach a specific learning criterion during the testing phase, the overall success rates were similar to those of the final training phase, indicating robust performances over time. With a mean of 79.3% the overall success rate (= correct choices/700) ranged from 67.5 to 89.1% (Table 2). Except of one animal that did not reach the 70% mark, mice solved the task correctly in at least 75% of all trials, demonstrating constantly good performance abilities also during the testing phase. In addition to the overall success rate, behavioral performance in the testing phase was separately analyzed for each condition (“ongoing,” “switch,” “distractor ongoing,” “distractor switch,” “ambiguous”) using both response times and ER. Concerning the response times, only minimal differences were observed between the five testing conditions, ranging from a mean latency of 1.9 s in the “distractor ongoing” condition to 2.1 s in the “ambiguous” condition (Table 3). Accordingly, the observed differences between response times of the specific event conditions and the “ongoing” condition did not exceed ± 130 ms. Notably, we observed negative response time costs in the distractor conditions, indicating that on average it took the mice slightly longer to respond to the “ongoing” than to the “distractor ongoing” and the “distractor switch” conditions (Table 3). By contrast, ER clearly differed between the conditions in the expected way, with only 18.6% in the “ongoing” condition and 28.8% in the “distractor switch” condition, probably reflecting an increasing degree of difficulty (Figure 6).

Bottom Line: Recently, a novel human paradigm has found individual differences of cognitive flexibility and stability to be related to common prefrontal networks.Importantly, subjects switching more often spontaneously were found to be more distractible by task irrelevant cues, but also more flexible in situations, where switching was required.These results support a dichotomy of cognitive flexibility and stability as predicted by the Dual State Theory.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Animal Models in Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim, Heidelberg University Mannheim, Germany ; Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience Heidelberg/Mannheim, Germany.

ABSTRACT
The abilities to either flexibly adjust behavior according to changing demands (cognitive flexibility) or to maintain it in the face of potential distractors (cognitive stability) are critical for adaptive behavior in many situations. Recently, a novel human paradigm has found individual differences of cognitive flexibility and stability to be related to common prefrontal networks. The aims of the present study were, first, to translate this paradigm from humans to mice and, second, to test conceptual predictions of a computational model of prefrontal working memory mechanisms, the Dual State Theory, which assumes an antagonistic relation between cognitive flexibility and stability. Mice were trained in a touchscreen-paradigm to discriminate visual cues. The task involved "ongoing" and cued "switch" trials. In addition distractor cues were interspersed to test the ability to resist distraction, and an ambiguous condition assessed the spontaneous switching between two possible responses without explicit cues. While response times did not differ substantially between conditions, error rates (ER) increased from the "ongoing" baseline condition to the most complex condition, where subjects were required to switch between two responses in the presence of a distracting cue. Importantly, subjects switching more often spontaneously were found to be more distractible by task irrelevant cues, but also more flexible in situations, where switching was required. These results support a dichotomy of cognitive flexibility and stability as predicted by the Dual State Theory. Furthermore, they replicate critical aspects of the human paradigm, which indicates the translational potential of the testing procedure and supports the use of touchscreen procedures in preclinical animal research.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus