NRC Rodent Behavior Core Test Types

Acoustic Startle Test

Acoustic Startle Test

The animal is placed in a small restraint chamber in a sound attenuation chamber. A loud acute noise is presented to the animal and the whole body flinch is recorded by computer software.

  • Tests for: Hearing, reflexes
  • Equipment available for: Mouse


Aggression

Evaluation of aggression and dominance.
Resident-Intruder test — an animal is housed individually in a large cage. A stranger mouse is introduced to the cage and aggressive behaviors by the resident mouse are monitored. This test can be modified for maternal aggression as well. The mother mouse and pups are placed into a larger cage and an intruder mouse is introduced. Again, resident mouse aggression is monitored towards the intruder mouse.

  • Tests for: Aggression, protective behaviors, dominance/submission
  • Equipment available for: Mouse or Rat

Conditioned Place Preference TestConditioned Place Preference Test

Conditioned Place Preference

Animals are conditioned to prefer or avoid a particular chamber in either a two or three-chamber apparatus. Software measures the amount of time the animal spends in each chamber.

  • Tests for: Preference, addiction, reward seeking or avoidance behaviors
  • Equipment available for: Mouse or Rat
     

Fear Conditioning Test

Fear Conditioning

Fear conditioning can be run a multitude of ways depending on the desired outcomes. Generally speaking, it tests for learning, memory and extinction.  On the first day, an animal is conditioned to associate an aversive stimulus (shock) to a context (the chamber) and cue (tone). Freezing behavior is used to qualify the learned association. Subsequent days test for memory and the extinction of that memory.

  • Tests for: Learning and memory
  • Equipment available for: Mouse or Rat

Forced Swim Test

Forced Swim

The animal is placed in a large beaker of water and monitored for several minutes. The amount of time the animal spends swimming, struggling or floating is recorded.

  • Tests for: Depression
  • Equipment available for: Mouse
     

Elevated Plus Maze Test

Elevated Plus Maze

Widely used for drug testing, it consists of a 4-arm maze in which 2 arms are open brightly lit and 2 arms are enclosed and dark. The animal is then conflicted with its desire to explore the novel, but more aversive, environments verses its desire to stay hidden in the enclosed environments.

  • Tests for: Anxiety
  • Equipment available for: Mouse


Hanging Wire Test

Either a wire cage lid or mesh screen are used to test for how long an animal will hang from it once inverted. The researcher places the animal on the wire or mesh and gently bounces it up and down until the animal has a grip then inverts the screen and records how long the animal can hold on.

  • Tests for: Motor abilities
  • Equipment available for: Mouse or Rat


Home Cage Activity

The animal is monitored in its home cage by video for several hours on several different days (for up to 24 hours each day). The video is then reviewed and scored for abnormal behaviors.

  • Tests for:  Normal vs. abnormal behaviors
  • Equipment available for: Mouse or Rat


Irwin Screen

Used as a systematic measure of general and neurological health. Measures include: general appearance, muscle tone, hearing, reflexes, temperature, body weight, novel open field behavior and more.

  • Tests for: General health
  • Equipment available for: Mouse or Rat

Light-Dark Box Test

Light-Dark Box

Allows the animal uninhibited movement between an exposed “light” chamber and a black “dark” chamber. The animal’s movements are recorded with ANY-maze software. The amount of time the animal spends on the light side verses the dark side as well as general locomotion are recorded.

  • Tests for: Anxiety
  • Equipment available for: Mouse
     

Marble Burying Test

Marble Burying Test

24 marbles are placed in a novel cage with 5cm of bedding. The animals are allowed to explore the marbles for 30 minutes. Latency to bury and the number of marbles buried are recorded.

  • Tests for: Anxiety and obsessive-compulsive behavior
  • Equipment available for: Mouse or Rat
     

Morris Water Maze Test

Morris Water Maze

The animal must use visual cues around the room to learn where a hidden platform in an open pool of water is located. Latency to find the platform is used as a measure of special learning and memory. It is often used in place of the Radial Arm Maze or as modified into a Radial Arm Water Maze.

  • Tests for: Spatial learning, cognitive maps and memory
  • Equipment available for: Mouse

Novel Object Recognition Test

Novel Object Recognition

Objects are placed in an open field environment and animals are allowed to explore the objects for a predetermined amount of time. One object is then replaced and the time spent with the novel object is recorded.

  • Tests for: Memory
  • Equipment available for: Mouse or Rat
     

Open Field Test

Open Field

Large: anxiety and locomotion  |  Small: anxiety and locomotion.
An animal is placed in either a circular or rectangular enclosure and allowed to explore for a predetermined amount of time. Video tracking equipment is used to determine the amount of time the animal is along the edge of the apparatus verses the center of the apparatus.

  • Tests for: Anxiety and locomotion
  • Equipment available for: Mouse or Rat
     

Prepulse Inhibition

The animal is placed in a small chamber (same as the Acoustic Startle test) and a weaker acoustic stimulus is presented before a louder startle stimulus. The animal’s whole body flinch is recorded by the software. The weaker stimulus (prepulse) should decrease the animal’s reaction to the startle stimulus (pulse).

  • Tests for: Anxiety, sensorimotor gating
  • Equipment available for: Mouse

Rotarod Test

Rotarod

Animals are placed on a rotating beam and latency to fall is measured.

  • Tests for: Coordination, motor ability, locomotion
  • Equipment available for: Mouse
     

Sociability Test

Sociability

Using a three-chambered apparatus, animals are allowed to habituate to a central chamber than then introduced to a restrained stranger animal in an adjacent chamber. After a period of time, a second stranger is introduced and the animal is again allowed to explore all chambers for the remaining time period.

  • Tests for: social interaction or avoidance
  • Equipment available for: Mouse
     

Y-Maze, Radial 8 Arm Maze, T-Maze Tests

Y-Maze, Radial 8 Arm Maze, T-Maze

Special maze tasks are designed to model special learning or preferences. Animals are trained to choose the correct arm in order to receive a reward or avoid a stimulus. Latency to the correct arm and, in the 8 arm maze, number of incorrect arm entries are used as a measure of learning.

  • Tests for: Learning and Memory
  • Equipment available for: Mouse

Contact Us

For general inquiries and scheduling:

behavioralcore@mcw.edu

For consultation or suggestions:

Dr. Nashaat Gerges | ngerges@mcw.edu
Associate Professor, Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Anatomy
Associate Director, Neuroscience Research Center

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Software

Software available for researchers using the NRC Rodent Behavior Core.

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Page Updated 09/16/2014
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