Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Science (BS)




Joshua A. Burk

Committee Members

Randolph Coleman

Matthias Leu

Joshua Burk


The cholinergic system projects to a plethora of brain systems and is implicated in a wide variety of functions including learning, memory, and attention. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter used in these pathways and is responsible for many of these effects on these operations. Muscarinic and nicotinic receptors are crucial proteins involved in acetylcholine signaling. This study focuses on muscarinic receptors, specifically the M2 receptor which plays important roles in a variety of everyday activities such as arousal and attention. It works by modulating the amount of acetylcholine available for signaling. Dysfunction of M2 receptors plays a critical role in many neurological deficits such as Alzheimer’s disease, Schizophrenia, and ADHD. This study explored the effects of the M2 receptor antagonist Methoctramine on sustained attention. Six Sprague Dawley rats were injected with Methoctramine and tested in a modified Sustained Attention Task (SAT) to study the effects of this drug on attention. The sustained attention task was modified by adding a distractor to enhance attentional demands. Although work on the muscarinic subtype receptors has been ongoing, there is a lack of research focusing on the effect of methoctramine during a sustained attention task, specifically involving a distractor. The sustained attention task used in the present experiment was an adequate assessment of the rats’ attentional vigilance and methoctramine significantly enhanced sustained attention within the task. In light of these findings, methoctramine could be a viable option for treating cognitive deficits.

On-Campus Access Only