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The effects of exercise on exploratory behavior in the male spontaneously hypertensive rat

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Corry, Amber B.
Rauschler, Francis
Apr 10, 2009
Experimental psychology; Rats, Behavior; Exercise; Attention defecit hyperactivity disorder
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is diagnosed in up to 12% of the grade-school population, and that number is continuing to increase. Symptoms of ADHD include impulsivity, hyperactivity and inattention. Children are treated for ADHD with stimulant medications such as Ritalin or Adderall, however the consequences of long-term use of these medications are unknown. Most physicians agree that it is time to consider an alternative course of treatment. Exercise is known to aid in the symptoms of depression, and it has overall health benefits as well. It may also be a useful alternative to medications commonly used to treat ADHD. Twenty Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats, an animal model of ADHD, were assigned to one of two groups. The experimental group (n = 10), was treated with an exercise regime of 30 min of access to a running wheel, three times per week for 43 days. The control group (n = 10) was not treated with exercise. The rats' exploratory behavior was observed in the open field prior to exercise (baseline), and every seven days after onset of the exercise regime. Dependent measures were number of interactions with objects placed in the open field and number of square crossings. Results showed that the treatment group had significantly longer object interaction times in the open field. There was no difference between the groups for the number of square crossings. This study suggests that exercise may increase exploratory behavior in the SHR. Future research on how exercise affects the symptoms of ADHD is needed.
A Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science - Psychology - Experimental --University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, 2008
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