Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychological Science



First Reader/Committee Chair

Amodeo, Dionisio


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is characterized by a subset of symptoms known as restricted repetitive behaviors (RRBs). RRBs are categorized into both lower order and higher order RRBs, where the latter can be described as behavioral inflexibility. The BTBR T+ tf/J (BTBR) mouse strain has been an extensively used animal model that demonstrate the behavioral symptoms of these individuals, including inflexible behavior. Currently, there are few effective treatments for individuals with ASD that express RRBs. Past research has investigated treatments that target serotonin due its historic involvement in ASD. 8-OH-DPAT (8-hydroxy-2-(di-n-propylamine) tetralin) is a research compound that has been used to study the effects of 5-HT1A receptor activation, however, little is known about the 5-HT1A’s receptors specific effects related to the symptomology in ASD. The present study sought to investigate the effects of 8-OH-DPAT administration in the BTBR mouse strain, an idiopathic model of autism, compared to control C57BL/6J mice on a probabilistic reversal learning task, a measure of higher order RRBs. BTBR and C57BL/6J mouse strains were behaviorally tested after acute treatment with the 5-HT1A receptor agonist 8-OH-DPAT or vehicle. Acute treatment with 8-OH-DPAT alleviated a reversal learning impairment in BTBR mice at the 1.0 and 5.0 mg/kg dose by improving sensitivity to positive reinforcement and by maintaining a new choice strategy. Furthermore, 8-OH-DPAT had no effect in performance of C57BL/6J mice at the 1.0 mg/kg dose, but reduced trials to criterion at the 5.0 mg/kg dose in the probabilistic reversal learning task. These findings suggest that increased 5-HT1A receptor signaling may reduce repetitive behaviors seen in ASD. Further, 5-HT1A receptor activation may serve as a potential therapeutic target for attenuating RRBs seen in ASD.