Institute of Physiology ASCR, v.v.i.
Videnska 1083
142 20 - Prague 4

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Assoc. Prof. RNDr. Aleš Stuchlík, PhD was appointed a Full Professor in Animal Physiology.
Czech president signed a letter of appointment on May 17, 2016. The appointment procedure took a place at Charles University, Prague.

Svoboda J, Stankova A, Entlerova M, Stuchlik A.
Acuteadministration of MK-801 in an animal model of psychosis in rats interferes with cognitively
demanding forms of behavioral flexibility on a rotating arena.

Front Behav Neurosci. 2015;9:75. IF = 3.3 (2014)

The inability to flexibly switch a strategy (i.e. deficit in cognitive flexibility) represents a typical symptom in schizophrenic patients. Although there are several validated tests of cognitive flexibility in rodent models of schizophrenia, they do not offer to test animals under more than two levels of cognitive load; furthermore they usually use only simple cues. In our study, we employed Carousel apparatus which easily allowsfor examining performance in several variously complex tasks of spatial memory.
Rats were challenged with four conditions of spatial behavior flexibility, with increasing cognitive load. In each condition, we used a group of control rats (injected with saline) and two groups of rats with schizophrenia-like symptoms induced by acute administration of NMDA antagonist MK-801 (0.05 mg/kg or 0.1mg/kg).
Application of MK-801 had no effect on the easiest type of flexibility, change in motoric response; it neither affected the ability to locate a place in new location (so called reversal) using the well-known set of spatial cues. However, application of MK-801 in the dose 0.1mg/kg significantly worsened cognitively most demanding challenge – to locate a place in new, previously ignored set of spatial cues (set-shifting).
It had the effect on both types of set-shifting examined.
These results suggest that inducing schizophrenia-like behavior compromise preferentially set-shifting type of cognitive flexibility. Therefore it may preferentially disrupt putative neural substrate of set-shifting – prefrontal cortex. In addition, the Carousel apparatus appeared to be a useful tool for assessing various levels of cognitive load during cognitive flexibility.

International Conference on Virtual Rehabilitation 2015, Valencia, Spain, June 9-12, 2015
Best Student Paper/Honorable Mention
I. Fajnerova, M. Rodriguez, K. Vlcek, A. Stuchlik, C. Brom, D. Levcik, F. Spaniel, J. Horacek:
Spatial navigation in virtual reality – from animal models towards schizophrenia

Markova,H., Laczo,J., Andel,R., Hort,J., and Vlcek,K. (2015).
Perspective taking abilities in amnestic mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease.
Behavioural Brain Research 281, 229-238. IF= 3.0 (2014)

The researchers from the Institute of Physiology CAS, in collaboration with 2 nd medical faculty UK and Hospital Motol, found that patients suffering Alzheimer disease have problems to imagine a spatial scene from another perspective.
A computer test distinguished them perfectly from healthy volunteers of the same age, based on their success rate.
This suggests usability of this ability, called spatial perspective taking, in dementia diagnostics and evaluation of cognitive rehabilitation.

Mabel Rodriguez, Filip Spaniel, Lucie Konradova, Katerina Sedlakova, Karolina Dvorska, Jitka Prajsova, Zuzana Kratochvilova, David Levcik, Kamil Vlcek, and Iveta Fajnerova.
Comparison of visuospatial and verbal abilities in first psychotic episode of schizophrenia spectrum disorder: impact on global functioning and quality of life.
Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 9, 2015.

The researchers from the Institute of Physiology CAS and the National Institute of Health investigated to what extent is the life of first psychotic episode schizophrenia patients influenced by the cognitive visuo-spatial and verbal deficits.
While the verbal difficulties present mainly in speech and communication, the visuo-spatial deficits are less noticeable.
They influence however many everyday activities, like watching TV, spatial orientation and also correct interpretation of non-verbal communication using gestures and mimics.
In spite of it but according to the new research, the life quality and global independent functioning at the start of psychotic disease is influenced more by the verbal than visuo-spatial difficulties. In the follow-up investigations the researchers ask, whether the used measures of life quality and functioning are sensitive enough to monitor the less noticeable but still limiting deficits in visuo-spatial abilities.