Detecting drug effects on short-term memory function using a combined delayed matching and non-matching to position task

David M. Pache*, Robert D.E. Sewell, Paul S.J. Spencer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Operant delayed non-matching-to-position (DNMTP) and delayed matching-to-position (DMTP) have become standard techniques to investigate drug effects on short-term memory function in rats. However, these two tasks are normally conducted in isolation. Using two standard drugs, the 5HT1(A) agonist 8-hydroxy-2-(di-n-propylamino)tetralin (8-OH-DPAT), and the muscarinic antagonist scopolamine, this study looked at a two-choice operant task that essentially involved a mixed DNMTP/DMTP paradigm. Thus, DNMTP trials were interspersed with DMTP trials in a random sequence for the duration of a session. 8-OH-DPAT (0.03 mg/kg) slightly but significantly improved response accuracy in a delay-dependent fashion during DMTP but not DNMTP trials. The highest dose of 8-OH-DPAT (0.1 mg/kg) impaired accuracy during DNMTP trials independent of delay and had no significant effect during DMTP trials. Scopolamine (0.1 mg/kg) produced delay-dependent deficits in accuracy during DMTP trials but delay-independent impairments during DNMTP trials. Because both 8-OH-DPAT and scopolamine produced delay-dependent effects with DMTP trials types and either had no effect (8-OH-DPAT) or produced delay-independent impairments (scopolamine) during DNMTP trials types, it is suggested that DMTP trials had a greater dependence on short-term working memory function than DNMTP trials that probably relied more on positional (mediating) strategies for solving the task. Therefore, we believe that this mixed DNMTP/DMTP task offers greater potential for more reliable and discerning interpretation of data regarding short-term memory function in rodents than either of the paradigms performed in isolation. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-141
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pharmacological and Toxicological Methods
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 1999
Externally publishedYes


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