Wednesday, October 21st – I have been talking to so many interesting people around here. Not just researchers, but other vendors as well, such as our partner company Inscopix. It was great meeting some of the people from the company that made an important contribution to the research presented at our satellite symposium on Monday. I think there is a bright future ahead in combining live brain imaging with video tracking technology and I hope to be reporting about it more in the near future.
Mouse models have proven to be essential in discovering the neurological underpinnings of diseases and to the development of a deeper understanding of genotype-phenotype relations. Behavioral phenotyping of these mice is very important, evidenced by the variety of tests that have been described in literature. Unfortunately, many of these tests are susceptible to bias, for example, testing in a novel environment. Bias can also result from handling animals prior to the tests, which can induce artificial behaviors that confound results.
Standard behavioral tests
Traditional standard tests with rats or mice to study human diseases or to test drugs generally take minutes to a few hours. A combination of these tests can give valuable information about the behavior of the rodents. However, these tests are carried out immediately after human interference. Therefore, the behavior of the animals may not be natural and spontaneous. To study spontaneous behavior, long-term studies in the rodents’ home cage are more suitable .
If zebrafish are the new mice, guinea pigs might be the new rats. According to Kiera-Nicole Lee and her colleagues, guinea pigs differ from mice and rats, and that just might make them more suitable for some neuroscience research due to the fact that these results are more easily translated to humans.
Long-term behavioral observations with PhenoTyper
Standard behavioral tests for psychiatric mood disorders
The most common psychiatric disorders are mood and anxiety related. However, the underlying mechanisms of these diseases are still largely unknown. This complicates the development of effective treatment and drugs. There are a large number of standard behavioral tests for mouse or rat models of psychiatric disorders. Many of these tests have a very short duration, between 5 and 60 minutes. Handling the animals prior to the test and their response to the new environment can influence the test results.
The importance of being flexible
The ability to recognize harmful situations and respond accurately is important for the survival of any animal. In order to respond to these situations the animal must be able to learn, remember, and alter its behavior. Deficits in these abilities are associated with many affective and psychiatric disorders, like Schizophrenia and ADHD.
To find out more about human and animal learning and memory, we might just have to go to sleep. Ahem – research on sleep, I mean.
Topics: EthoVision XT, mice, Video tracking, animal behavior research, exploratory behavior, learning and memory, open field test, anxiety research, elevated plus maze, home cage, PhenoTyper, cognition, brain waves, REM sleep
The practice of animal husbandry is facing major issues. The up scaling of farms raises questions regarding health and wellbeing, danger of outbreaks, and environmental pollution. Innovative solutions are needed. The increasing pressure from legislation and society has created the need for a long term solution.
Recently Lucas Noldus was interviewed for a technology feature in Nature; “Inside the minds of mice and men” by Monya Baker. Nature, 475, 123 - 128.