Spontaneous spike-wave discharges in rat neocortex and their relation to behaviour
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A certain proportion of laboratory rats of various strains show spontaneous nonconvulsive ECoG seizures in the form of bursts of spike-and-wave discharges (SWD). Since in the majority of behavioural experiments the EEG is not controlled, the experimenter is usually unaware of this fact. The purpose of the present work was to find out whether the SWD trait is related to the rats behavioural performance in selected test situations. The experiment was performed on two groups of male Wistar rats, outbreds, aged six (group 6M, n = 17) and 24 months (group 24M, n = 14). First, in both groups the following forms of behaviour were assessed: (1) seeking water reward in an 8-arm radial maze, (2) exploration of a new object, (3) inhibition of a locomotor response (passive avoidance), and (4) paw-lick response to a thermal stimulus (54.5oC) applied to the feet before and after intermittent footshock. The rats were then implanted with intrabrain electrodes and the level of SWD activity was assessed. Rats of the 24M group, compared with those of the 6M one, showed a significantly shorter exploratory response to a new object and diminished responsiveness to heat. The groups did not differ, however, in passive avoidance and radial maze performance. The analysis of 3-h ECoG sections revealed SWD bursts in 73% and nearly 93% of rats from groups 6M and 24M, respectively. The groups did not differ in the number of bursts or in the total duration of SWD activity. A correlation analysis of pooled data from both groups revealed that the exploration time of a new object was significantly (negatively) correlated with the number of SWD episodes. The total duration of SWD activity, and the number of perseveration errors in the radial maze, was significantly (positively) correlated with the total duration of SWD activity. The results suggest that SWD rats are behaviourally impaired in some test situations.
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S. Gralewicz, Department of Toxicology and Carcinogenesis, The Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, 8 Teresy St., 90-950 Lodz, Poland, Email: email@example.com