Document Type

Honors Paper


Joseph Schroeder

Publication Date



Stimulants have been shown to have a variety of effects on different measures of learning and memory. In general low doses of stimulants like nicotine and caffeine enhance memory acquisition and recall, while high doses can significantly impair performance. Amphetamine, in the form of Adderall, is widely prescribed to improve attention and reduce hyperactivity, which promotes learning in children diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADHD). The radial arm maze (RAM) is a test of spatial learning that allows for the tracking of short and long-term memory errors. In the current study, we employed the RAM to examine the effects of amphetamine on spatial learning performance in spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR), an accepted model of ADHD, animals and age/strain matched controls. An immunohisotchemical analysis of cFos expression in the hippocampus was also utilized to evaluate the effect of amphetamine of neural activation in both groups of animals. Amphetamine (1.0 mg/kg, ip) administered during training significantly increased maze completion time and increased short-term and long-term error rates. The results of this study suggest that chronic amphetamine treatments have hindering effects on learning and memory in control rats. Unlike their age/strain matched controls, amphetamine did not enhance or inhibit radial arm maze performance of SHR animals. This suggests that the neurophysiological mechanisms mediating learning and memory may be different in SHR animals than in humans with ADHD. Therefore, additional studies are needed to evaluate the validity of the SHR model of ADHD.

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The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.