Handling prevents and reverses cognitive deficits induced by sub-chronic phencyclidine in a model for schizophrenia in rats

Katie Landreth, M Burgess, L Watson, Jarred Lorusso, Ben Grayson, Michael Harte, Joanna neill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Treatments for schizophrenia are not effective in ameliorating cognitive deficits. Therefore, novel therapies are needed to treat cognitive impairments associated with schizophrenia (CIAS), which are modelled in rats through administration of sub-chronic phencyclidine (scPCP). We have previously shown that enrichment via voluntary exercise prevents and reverses impairments in novel object recognition (NOR) in this model. The present study aimed to investigate if handling could prevent delay-induced NOR deficits and prevent and reverse scPCP-induced NOR deficits. Two cohorts of adult female Lister Hooded rats were used. In experiment one, handling (five minutes/day, five days/week for two weeks), took place before scPCP administration (2 mg/kg, i.p. twice-daily for seven days). NOR tests were conducted at two, four, and seven weeks post-handling with a one-minute inter-trial interval (ITI) and at five weeks post-dosing with a six-hour ITI. In experiment two, rats were handled after scPCP administration and tested immediately in the one-minute ITI NOR task and again at two weeks post-handling. In both handling regimens, the scPCP control groups failed to discriminate novelty, conversely the scPCP handled groups significantly discriminated in this task. In the 6 h ITI test, vehicle control and scPCP control failed to discriminate novelty; however, the vehicle handled and scPCP handled groups did significantly discriminate. Handling rats prevented and reversed scPCP-induced deficits and prevented delay-induced NOR deficits. These findings add to evidence that environmental enrichment is a viable treatment for cognitive deficits in rodent tests and models of relevance to schizophrenia, with potential to translate into effective treatments for CIAS.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114117
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Publication statusPublished - 11 Feb 2023


  • Phencyclidine
  • Schizophrenia
  • Cognition
  • Behaviour
  • Memory


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