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Recently, a novel paradigm has been designed to assess social investigative behaviour in pairs of Sprague-Dawley rats, which involves physical separation whilst ensuring they are able to maintain contact through other social cues. We have modified this set-up in order to assess not just social behaviour but also locomotor activity of the rats. Results showed that the MK-801- (0.3 mg/kg) treated rats displayed reduced social investigative behaviour, hyperactivity as well as reduced attention span. Pretreatment with the phytocannabinoid cannabidiol (3 mg/kg) not only normalised social investigative behaviour but increased it beyond control levels.
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Pretreatment with clozapine (1, 3 mg/kg) also normalised social investigative behaviour. Both cannabidiol and clozapine inhibited MK-801-induced hyperactivity. However, there were no effects of pretreatment on impairments to attention span. Our findings reinforce several aspects of the validity of the MK-801-induced model of social withdrawal and hyperactivity and also support the use of this novel set-up for further investigations to assess the antipsychotic potential of novel compounds.