Evidence for deficits in behavioural and physiological responses in aged mice relevant to the psychiatric symptom of apathy

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Abstract

Apathy is widely reported in patients with neurological disorders or post viral infection but is also seen in otherwise-healthy aged individuals. This study investigated whether aged male mice express behavioural and physiological changes relevant to an apathy phenotype. Using measures of motivation to work for reward, we found deficits in the progressive ratio task related to rate of responding. In an effort-related decision-making task, aged mice were less willing to exert effort for high value reward. Aged mice exhibited reduced reward sensitivity but also lower measures of anxiety in the novelty supressed feeding test and an attenuated response to restraint stress with lower corticosterone and reduced paraventricular nucleus c-fos activation. This profile of affective changes did not align with those observed in models of depression but suggested emotional blunting. In a test of cognition (novel object recognition), aged mice showed no impairments, but activity was lower in a measure of exploration in a novel environment. Together, these data suggest aged mice show changes across the domains of motivated behaviour, reward sensitivity and emotional reactivity and may be a suitable model for the pre-clinical study of the psychiatric symptom of apathy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23982128211015110
JournalBrain and Neuroscience Advances
Volume5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2021

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© The Author(s) 2021.

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