The rodent psychomotor vigilance test (rPVT): A method for assessing neurobehavioral performance in rats and mice

Catherine M. Davis, Peter G. Roma, Robert D. Hienz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The human Psychomotor Vigilance Test (PVT) is a widely used procedure for measuring changes in fatigue and sustained attention. The present article describes a rodent version of the PVT—termed the “rPVT”—that measures similar aspects of attention (i.e., performance accuracy, motor speed, premature responding, and lapses in attention). Data are presented that demonstrate both the short- and long-term usefulness of the rPVT when employed with laboratory rats. Rats easily learn the rPVT, and learning to perform the basic procedure takes less than two weeks of training. Once acquired, rat performances in the rPVT show a high degree of similarity to these same performance measures in the human PVT, including similarities in, lapses in attention, reaction times, vigilance decrements across session time (i.e., the human “time-on-task” effects), and the response-stimulus interval (RSI) effect described for humans. Thus the rPVT can be an extremely valuable tool for assessing the effects of a wide range of variables on sustained attention quite similar to human PVT performances, and thus can be useful for developing novel treatments for neurobehavioral dysfunctions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere54629
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number118
StatePublished - Dec 29 2016


  • Attention
  • Behavior
  • Circadian disruption
  • Issue 118
  • Mice
  • PVT
  • RPVT
  • Radiation
  • Rat
  • Response-stimulus interval effect
  • Sleep
  • Time on task
  • Vigilance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'The rodent psychomotor vigilance test (rPVT): A method for assessing neurobehavioral performance in rats and mice'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this