Putative cognitive enhancers in preclinical models related to schizophrenia: The search for an elusive target

Segev Barak, Ina Weiner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Several developments have converged to drive what may be called "the cognitive revolution" in drug discovery in schizophrenia (SCZ), including the emphasis on cognitive deficits as a core disabling aspect of SCZ, the increasing consensus that cognitive deficits are not treated satisfactorily by the available antipsychotic drugs (APDs), and the failure of animal models to predict drug efficacy for cognitive deficits in clinical trials. Consequently, in recent years, a paradigm shift has been encouraged in animal modeling, triggered by the NIMH sponsored Measurement and Treatment Research to Improve Cognition in Schizophrenia (MATRICS) initiative, and intended to promote the development and use of behavioral measures in animals that can generate valid (clinically relevant) measures of cognition and thus promote the identification of cognition enhancers for SCZ. Here, we provide a non-exhaustive survey of the effects of putative cognition enhancers (PCEs) representing 10 pharmacological targets as well as antipsychotic drugs (APDs), on SCZ-mimetic drugs (NMDA antagonists, muscarinic antagonist scopolamine and dopaminergic agonist amphetamine), in several tasks considered to measure cognitive processes/domains that are disrupted in SCZ (the five choice serial reaction time task, sustain attention task, working and/or recognition memory (delayed (non)matching to sample, delayed alternation task, radial arm maze, novel object recognition), reversal learning, attentional set shifting, latent inhibition and spatial learning and memory). We conclude that most of the available models have no capacity to distinguish between PCEs and APDs and that there is a need to establish models based on tasks whose perturbations lead to performance impairments that are resistant to APDs, and/or to accept APDs as a "weak gold standard". Several directions derived from the surveyed data are suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-189
Number of pages26
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2011


  • Animal models
  • Antipsychotic drugs
  • Attention
  • Cognitive enhancers
  • Executive function
  • Schizophrenia
  • Working memory


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