Congenital hypothyroidism impairs response alternation discrimination behavior

Brain Research - 1999-11-20MacNabb C, O'Hare E, Cleary J, Georgopoulos AP10.1016/S0006-8993(99)02038-7
The behavior of six congenitally hypothyroid and six normal control rats was assessed under forced alternation fixed-ratio, alternating lever cyclic-ratio (ALCR) and progressive-ratio schedules of reinforcement. Hypothyroidism was produced by adding methimazole (MMI) to the drinking water of pregnant dams from embryonic day 16 to postnatal day 25. There were no differences in behavioral performance between MMI-treated and control animals under the fixed-ratio and progressive ratio schedules. There were also no differences in circulating triiodothyronine levels between groups at the end of the study. Under the ALCR schedule, when alternation of responding was forced during the first three cycles but both levers (choice) were presented during the last three cycles (correct lever active), the entire control group reached a competency criteria in nine sessions. In contrast, only two MMI-treated animals reached criteria after 17 sessions, and the remaining four MMI-treated animals did not reach criteria by 30 sessions of training. These results suggest that congenital hypothyroidism impairs learning when a discrimination between correct and incorrect operanda is made available.