Behavioral tests offered by the Rodent Models Core are listed below. Please click the plus sign next to the test name to view additional information.
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The rotarod is designed to test balance and motor coordination. Animals are placed onto a horizontal rotating rod which accelerates over the course of a trial. A single trial lasts from the time the animal is placed on the rod until it falls off or until 5 minutes have elapsed. Animals can also be tested chronically to examine learning or motor degeneration.
The audiogenic seizure test measures susceptibility to seizures induced by audio stimulation during development. An alarm is turned on in the soundproof testing chamber and the latency to begin seizing is measured.
Elevated Plus Maze
The elevated plus maze is designed to evaluate anxiety in mice by using their innate preference for dark and enclosed spaces. The EPM consists of four runways arranged perpendicularly, two of which are enclosed and two of which are open. Amount of time spent in the closed arms of the maze is used as a measure of anxiety behavior.
Fear-conditioning is test of learning and memory in which mice learn to associate a context and a cue with an unconditioned stimulus. During training, mice are exposed to a chamber in which the cue (white noise) is paired with an aversive stimulus. On a subsequent trial, mice are returned to the context in which they have received the aversive stimulus, and freezing behavior is recorded through motion index cameras as a measure of anxiety. Cue-induced learning is tested by returning the mice to an altered context and introducing the white noise cue, while measuring freezing behavior through the motion index cameras.
Forced Swim Test
The forced swim test is a common test of anxiety or anti-depressant efficacy. Mice are placed into a beaker of water, and their active swimming behavior and passive floating behavior is quantified.
The inverted screen test is a test of combined forepaw and hindpaw strength. Mice are placed on a wire grid which is then inverted over a foam pad. The latency to fall is recorded.
This test assesses anxiety-related responses in mice by using the preference of mice for dark and enclosed spaces. Mice are placed in a box that is lighted in two-thirds of its area and dark in the remaining third, and are visually monitored for amount of time spent in each compartment.
The marble burying test assays anxiety and perseverative behavior by taking advantage of the fact that mice tend to hide or bury unfamiliar objects. Marbles are placed in a grid formation in a clean home cage, and a mouse is allowed to explore the cage. At the end of the test the number of marbles buried and is recorded.
Miss-Step Running Wheels
Rungs can be removed from these wheels to create a complex running wheel that allows users to distinguish subtle motor impairments in their mouse models. These wheels are used in the main housing facility.
Morris Water Maze
The Morris water maze is a test of spatial learning and memory in rodents in which mice use spatial cues to locate a hidden underwater platform. Mice learn to locate the hidden platform in a circular pool of opaque water using distal visual cues (colored shapes applied to the walls). Mice are given a total of 32 training trials over 4 days, before a final probe trial, in which the platform is removed. Swimming behavior on all trials is measured by an overhead camera and computer tracking software.
Novel Object Recognition
Novel object recognition is a test of learning and memory. Mice are exposed to specific objects in an enclosure over a number of training trials. During a test trial, one familiar object is removed and replaced with a novel object. The amount of time spent exploring the novel object is recorded.
Object placement is a test of spatial learning and memory. Mice are exposed to two identical objects placed in specific locations in the enclosure during training trials. On the test trial, one object is moved to a different location within the enclosure. Amount of time spent with the objects is recorded.
Open Field Arena
The open field test assays locomotor and anxiety behavior by using a photobeam chamber to monitor the mouse’s activity and placement within the arena.
Passive avoidance tests learning and memory through classical Pavlovian conditioning. The passive avoidance chamber is partitioned into two sections, one light and one dark. As the mouse moves into the dark section a mild aversive stimulus is delivered through the floor of the chamber. One day following training, mice are again placed into the illuminated portion of the chamber, and the time required for the mouse to move into the dark section is recorded.
This test measures the sensory and perception capabilities of mice, as well as the inhibition of acoustic startle. It is the standard measure of sensorimotor gating in mice. Mice are placed in a small restraint cage mounted on an ultra-sensitive load cell which measures activity in response to startle tones and pre-pulse tones.
The rotometers measure circling behavior, typically after an injection of a stimulant. This is usually done to examine damage to the striatal dopamine pathway, which is involved in movement.
The running wheels can placed in the home cage of singly-housed mice to record their activity levels over a prolonged period of time. These wheels are used in the main housing facility.
The TreadScan is used to evaluate balance, coordination, and gait by using a camera underneath a clear treadmill that records the placement and movement of each foot as the mouse walks on the treadmill.
This test measures vocalizations made by mice that are inaudible to the human ear. Mice are placed into a soundproof chamber with a receiver that transmits vocalizations to a computer.
Water T Maze
The water T maze is a test of learning and memory which examines executive function and short term memory. Through a series of trials, mice learn to locate a hidden underwater platform placed at the end of an arm in the T maze. The test can be made increasingly difficult by forcing the mice to swim in certain patterns to locate the platform by blocking off an arm with a panel.
The wire suspension assay tests forepaw strength. Mice use their front paws to grasp a wire that is suspended over a foam pad. The mouse is released and the time to fall is measured.