Study of NOVIFIT® (NoviSAMe®) Tablets' effect in aged dogs and cats
Tests for assessing cognitive function have been available for dogs since 1994. Using objects and locations to evaluate cognitive
abilities (such as memory, learning, and attention) makes it possible to identify cognitive differences and objectively measure
response to therapy. Now those tests have been adjusted for use in cats.
In an object discrimination learning test, the dog or cat must learn that a particular object of a set of two objects is always the correct choice; by displacing the
correct object (pushing it aside), a food reward is obtained. This represents basic learning. Then in reversal learning, the previously correct object is no longer rewarded, and the previously incorrect object is. This test is a measure of executive function, which is defined as a set of mental processes that help connect past experience with present action, necessary for goal-directed
behavior. Executive function also includes the ability to change behavior or adapt to changing situations. This ability of
an animal to alter a previously learned response has been shown to be impaired by age.1
Memory can be tested by rewarding an animal when it selects the same object even though the object appears in a different
position from where it was during an earlier round of testing. Once the animal has learned that choosing the same object despite
its location is rewarded, the time between the object presentations is increased in an assessment known as a DNMP (delayed non-matching to position) task. The longest delay (with a correct choice of object) represents that animal's short-term memory.
THE PUBLISHED STUDY
NOVIFIT® (NoviSAMe®) Tablets improve executive function in aged dogs and cats: Implications for treatment of cognitive dysfunction syndrome.
Araujo JA, Faubert ML, Brooks ML, et al. Intern J Appl Res Vet Med 2012;10(1):90-98.
To examine the effects of NOVIFIT Tablets on cognitive function in aged cats and dogs.
• 14 dogs (9.2 - 12.8 years old)
» Divided into two equivalent groups (placebo or NOVIFIT Tablets) based on performance of a DNMP task with delays of
5, 55, and 105 seconds (matched for memory).
• 16 cats (8.4-13.9 years old)
» Divided into two equivalent groups (placebo or NOVIFIT Tablets) based on performance of a discrimination learning
task until the learning criterion was reached (matched for learning).
• After a 15-day wash-in, canine subjects were tested on object discrimination and reversal learning tasks and the DNMP
task for five sessions. Testing lasted for a maximum of 30 days, or until the learning criterion was reached.
» Variables included treatment group and task (learning versus reversal).
• After a 15-day wash-in, feline subjects were tested on object discrimination and reversal learning tasks for a maximum
of 36 days, or until the learning criterion was reached.
» Variables included treatment group and time-point interaction (an individual's change from baseline to endpoint —
a within-subject variable).
• Technicians who administered the cognitive tests and conducted the observations were blinded in both studies.
• DNMP: No performance differences were found.
• Task: Both groups showed a significant difference between their tasks, from discrimination to reversal, within their group.
• Issue: Since groups were balanced for memory, and not learning, an initial difference in learning capabilities (discrimination)
between the two groups could have impacted the conclusions, as there was no significant difference just looking at the treatment
levels between the groups.
» Once the task and treatment interaction (combining both variables) was taken into account, the significant difference
becomes apparent, as the greater relative increase in reversal learning errors in the placebo group (as compared with the
treatment group) is demonstrated.
Discrimination and Reversal: NOVI FIT Tablets improved reversal learning compared with discrimination learning.
• No treatment differences were seen on the learned discrimination task (balanced for learning).
• There was a non-significant trend for a treatment by time-point interaction (both variables taken into account), with
a decrease in learning errors in the NOVIFIT Tablet group.
• There was a significant effect on the treatment group when "high performers" were compared (p = 0.015) with the control
group. However, no treatment-related effects were found in the "bottom performers."
• Significant task by treatment interaction on reversal learning suggests a benefit for executive function.
» Previous studies reveal an age-related increase in reversal learning errors compared with discrimination errors —
• The reduction in reversal learning errors in the "high performers" treatment group is consistent with improved executive
» No treatment-related effect in "bottom half performers" correlates with the supposition that beneficial effects of
treatment are least evident in more severely affected cats.
This study supports the use of NOVIFIT Tablets for helping to improve cognitive health in aged dogs and cats, with potential
benefits on executive function, especially in the early stages of cognitive dysfunction syndrome. Moreover, this is the first published report we are aware of demonstrating cognitive benefits of a therapeutic in aged cats.
Further studies may be able to define the mechanism of action and to more closely identify the groups of pets most likely
to benefit from NOVIFIT Tablet therapy.
1. Tapp PD, Siwak CT, Estrada J, et al. Size and reversal learning in the beagle dog as a measure of executive function and
inhibitory control in aging. Learn Mem 2003;10:64-73.
For more information on NOVIFIT Tablets, click here.