Modeling the effects of the NMDA receptor antagonist MK-801 on timing in rats

J. Devin McAuley, Jonathan P. Miller, Kevin C.H. Pang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The NMDA receptor antagonist MK-801 produces different effects on timing tasks. In particular, MK-801 produces an underestimation of duration when animals are tested with the differential reinforcement of low rate of responding (DRL) schedule and an overestimation of duration when animals are tested with the peak-interval (PI) procedure. The goal of this study was to develop a model-based explanation for this discrepancy. Two computer simulations were conducted via an implementation of scalar expectancy theory (SET). In Simulation 1, SET was used to provide a quantitative account of PI timing data. Simulation 2 used parameter estimates from Simulation 1 to predict effects of MK-801 on the DRL task. DRL predictions provided a close match to previous empirical data. Results of the simulations suggest that differences in the literature are likely due to inherent differences between PI and DRL tasks, rather than fundamental differences in timing. Overall, the role of NMDA receptors in timing appears to be multifaceted, impacting perception, memory, and decision processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1163-1168
Number of pages6
JournalBehavioral Neuroscience
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2006
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


  • MK-801
  • NMDA receptors
  • Scalar expectancy theory
  • Task performance
  • Timing


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