Rationale: Depressed people show effort-related motivational symptoms, such as anergia, retardation, lassitude, and fatigue. Animal tests can model these motivational symptoms, and the present studies characterized the effort-related effects of the vesicular monoamine transport (VMAT-2) inhibitor tetrabenazine. Tetrabenazine produces depressive symptoms in humans and, at low doses, preferentially depletes dopamine. Objectives: The current studies investigated the effects of tetrabenazine on effort-based decision making using the T-maze barrier task. Methods: Rats were tested in a T-maze in which the choice arms of the maze contain different reinforcement densities, and under some conditions, a vertical barrier was placed in the high-density arm to provide an effort-related challenge. The first experiment assessed the effects of tetrabenazine under different maze conditions: a barrier in the arm with 4 food pellets and 2 pellets in the no barrier arm (4-2 barrier), 4 pellets in one arm and 2 pellets in the other with no barrier in either arm (no barrier), and 4 pellets in the barrier arm with no pellets in the other (4-0 barrier). Results: Tetrabenazine (0.25-0.75 mg/kg IP) decreased selection of the high cost/high reward arm when the barrier was present, but had no effect on choice under the no barrier and 4-0 barrier conditions. The effects of tetrabenazine on barrier climbing in the 4-2 condition were reversed by the adenosine A2A antagonist MSX-3 and the catecholamine uptake inhibitor and antidepressant bupropion. Conclusions: These studies have implications for the development of animal models of the motivational symptoms of depression and other disorders.
- Behavioral activation
ASJC Scopus subject areas