Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Anatomy and Neurobiology

First Advisor

Dr. Paul E. A. Glaser


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common disorders of childhood. It is theorized to be caused by catecholamine dysfunction in the striatum (Str) and frontal cortex (FC). The spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR) has been used as a model for ADHD because of its attention deficits, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity. Prior studies of dopamine (DA) in the Str and FC have revealed conflicting results in the SHR compared to control, indicative of a need for a better understanding of DA dynamics in this model. In addition to the DA hypothesis, studies have begun implicating glutamate in the etiology of ADHD. Previous evaluations of the SHR model of ADHD found that the SHR have increased α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) receptor activity and elevated calcium levels in the FC, suggesting that altered glutamatergic neurotransmission exists in the SHR.

The first set of studies presented here suggest that increased surface expression of DA transporters may exist in the SHR model of ADHD, lowering basal DA levels. Second, we discovered that the glutamate system in the FC of the SHR model of ADHD is hyperfunctional, thus raising the possibility that targeting glutamate dysfunction in the FC could lead to the development of novel therapeutics for the treatment of ADHD. The third and fourth set of studies explored glutamate signaling in the awake rodent to fully understand glutamate neurotransmission as well as the effects of methylphenidate (MPH) on glutamate signaling in the prelimbic cortex, a region heavily implicated in ADHD. The SHR displayed similar phasic glutamate signaling compared to control; however, in the SHR but not the WKY control, chronic treatment with MPH lowered phasic glutamate amplitude. Additionally, intermediate treatment with MPH increased tonic glutamate in the SHR only, whereas chronic MPH treatment increased tonic levels in both the SHR and WKY compared to saline.

Taken together, this body of work characterizes DA and glutamate signaling in the anesthetized SHR model of ADHD. Additionally, glutamate dynamics and the effects of the stimulant medication MPH were explored in the awake animal, providing evidence that glutamate is a likely target for future neuropharmacology for the treatment of ADHD.