Effect of ADHD medication in male C57BL/6J mice performing the rodent Continuous Performance Test

  • M. Caballero-PuntiverioEmail author
  • L. S. Lerdrup
  • M. Grupe
  • C. W. Larsen
  • A. G. Dietz
  • J. T. Andreasen
Original Investigation



The rodent Continuous Performance Test (rCPT) is a novel rodent paradigm to assess attention and impulsivity that resembles the human CPT. This task measures the rodents’ ability to discriminate between target and non-target stimuli. The effect of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medication on rCPT performance in mice remains to be fully characterized.


To investigate the predictive validity of the mouse rCPT by studying the effects of ADHD medication methylphenidate, atomoxetine, amphetamine, guanfacine, and modafinil in four behavioral subgroups based on performance and impulsivity levels.


Two cohorts of male C57BL/6J mice were used, and the effect of treatment was tested in a variable stimulus duration probe. Performance and impulsive subgroups were made based on discriminability and percentage premature responses, respectively.


Methylphenidate, atomoxetine, and amphetamine improved performance in the low-performing animals, with no effect in the high-performers. These improvements were a result of increased hit rate and/or decreased false-alarm rate. Furthermore, these drugs decreased percentage premature responses in the high-impulsive group. Methylphenidate, guanfacine, and modafinil increased premature responses in the low-impulsive group. Modafinil impaired performance in the high-performers by increasing false-alarm rate.


The effect of ADHD treatment was dependent on baseline, as seen by increases in performance for the low-performers and decreases in impulsivity for the high-impulsive animals. These results agree with clinical data and may support the inverted U-shaped arousal-performance theory. The rCPT combined with behavioral separation into subgroups has high predictive validity, and our study is a step forward towards establishing the clinical translatability of the rCPT.


Continuous performance task Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder Touchscreen operant chamber Predictive validity Translatability Methylphenidate d-Amphetamine Atomoxetine Modafinil Guanfacine 



The authors will like to thank Lars Arvastson and Simon Bate for their statistical advice.

Compliance with ethical standards

All procedures were approved by the Danish Animal Experiment Inspectorate.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

213_2019_5167_MOESM1_ESM.doc (9.6 mb)
Online Resource 1 (DOC 9806 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Drug Design and PharmacologyUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark
  2. 2.Synaptic Transmission In Vivo, H. Lundbeck A/SValbyDenmark
  3. 3.Center for Translational NeuromedicineUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

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