Behavioral Research Blog

Autistic mice have motor learning difficulties specific to the cerebellum

Posted by G. Smit on Jan 13, 2017

Most of us are familiar with the typical behavioral characteristics associated with autism: social behavior deficits and repetitive behaviors. However, motor abnormalities are also a part of the autism behavioral spectrum. These have generally been linked to malfunction of the cerebral cortex, but recent studies have also implicated the cerebellum.

Autistic phenotype in mice

Shank2 is a gene that encodes a postsynaptic protein and has been linked to autism spectrum disorders (ASD). In short, inactivation of this gene in mice creates “autistic mice” (Won et al. Nature 2012).

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Topics: mice, autism research, ErasmusLadder, cerebellum, autism

Neuroscience 2015 – Baby steps

Posted by G. Smit on Oct 19, 2015

Sunday, October 18th - After helping out my colleagues set up the booth on Saturday, Sunday was my first ‘actual’ SfN day. As a first-timer, I tried to prepare for Neuroscience 2015, but quickly found that you really cannot. It is overwhelming – in a good way. It is like a playground for scientists and anyone interested in what goes on in the brain. And even though there are enough people here to fill a city, it feels like a welcoming community.

Spending the energy

There is so much going on, that it’s hard to decide what booth to see, which lecture to go to, or which poster to visit.

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Topics: EthoVision XT, Danio rerio, DanioVision, CatWalk XT, PhenoTyper, ErasmusLadder, automated tube test, 2015, neuroscience

How to study ataxia

Posted by G. Smit on Jul 3, 2015

Gait and motor performance are studied extensively in neuroscience research, which is not surprising when you come to think of it, because it is affected in many neurological diseases. Ataxia is a common problem in Parkinson’s disease (PD), and many early onset Alzheimer’s disease patients (AD) also deal with it. Motor skills are also affected in patients with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

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Topics: Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's Disease, gait analysis, ErasmusLadder, motor learning, reflexive motor learning, motor performance, cerebellum, motor control

Alzheimer's: prevent instead of cure? Groundbreaking research and animal models

Posted by G. Smit on Apr 23, 2015

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a huge public health issue as it affects a large part of the aging population. By 2050, experts estimate this number will exceed 100 million worldwide. Those of you that are a familiar with the underlying pathological hallmarks of  AD will recognize the terms plaques and tangles. These protein built-ups in the brain are well-researched; however, this neuropathology is studied primarily in the end stages of the disease.

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Topics: mice, Alzheimer's disease, locomotion, ErasmusLadder, motor learning, motor performance

10 Innovative behavioral studies on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

Posted by G. Smit on Mar 17, 2015

Tomorrow the 12th International Conference on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases (ADPD) in Nice, France starts. Last week I blogged about a study on Ginkgo biloba and Alzheimer's, and I thought this would be a great opportunity to highlight some more studies and get you in the mood for the conference. This blog post features 10 interesting studies that use innovative techniques to study models of AD and PD and important underlying neuronal mechanisms.

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Topics: EthoVision XT, mice, Alzheimer's disease, Video tracking, zebrafish, Danio rerio, DanioVision, Parkinson's Disease, learning and memory, rats, CatWalk XT, gait analysis, locomotion, top 10, ErasmusLadder, reflexive motor learning, motor performance

How to really challenge mice cerebellar plasticity

Posted by Guest blogger on Nov 27, 2014

Guest post by Jan-Willem Potters

Successful locomotion and the maintenance of balance is the result of an intricate collaboration of the sensory system, sensorimotor integration and the motor system. Needless to say, there are many parts of the brain that work together to carry out this type of behavior. Locomotion is affected in many different neurological diseases, and is an interesting candidate to study symptoms in detail and the effect of possible therapies of these diseases.

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Topics: mice, ErasmusLadder, cerebellum

Walking the ladder: testing the cellular source of motor functioning in mice

Posted by G. Smit on Sep 11, 2014

The cerebellum, our “little brain”, is all about motor control; more specifically, it’s about coordination, precision, and timing. So when the functioning of the cerebellum is compromised, incoordination of movement (ataxia) occurs. Ataxia is found in many neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s and early onset Alzheimer’s.

Cerebellar cell types functioning

Purkinje cells, interneurons, and granule cells of the cerebellar cortex play an important role in reflexive types of motor learning, as we can tell from studies using the eye blink test and vestibulo-ocular testing. But since their role in more complex behaviors is not well understood, Maria Fernanda Vinueza Veloz and her colleagues decided to study the role of each one of these cell types in motor learning, locomotor adaptation, motivation and avoidance behavior using several knock-out mouse strains and testing them on the ErasmusLadder.

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Topics: mice, ataxia, locomotion, ErasmusLadder, reflexive motor learning, motor performance, cerebellum

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