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Neuroscience Research Center

Services

Rodent Behavior Core

The Neuroscience Research Center's Rodent Behavior Core was established to enable laboratories within the Medical College of Wisconsin to perform behavioral analysis on rodents without having to buy costly equipment themselves.

The primary goal of this core facility is to foster a collaborative environment to enhance neuroscience research at the Medical College of Wisconsin. The center is equipped with up-to-date experimental devices, analysis software, multifunctional rooms, and the ability to reserve time, space and equipment for your own research needs.

Funding for the purchase of equipment was provided by the Research and Education Initiative Fund, a component of the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Forms and Documents

Test Categories

all
General (where to start)
  • Home Cage Activity
  • Modified Irwin Screen
Aggression and Dominance
  • Dyadic Aggression
  • Resident Intruder
Anxiety and Depression
  • Conditioned Place Preference
  • Elevated Plus Maze
  • Light Dark Exploration
  • Marble Bury
  • Open Field
  • Porsolt Forced Swim
  • Prepulse Inhibition
Avoidance and Social Interaction
  • Sociability
  • Conditioned Place Preference
Coordination and Motor Abilities
  • Balance Beam
  • Bar Cross
  • Grip Strength*
  • Inverted Screen
  • Open Field
  • Rotarod
  • Treadmill*

*Please contact NRC Behavior Core about the use of this equipment.

Learning and Memory
  • Fear Conditioning
  • Morris Water Maze
  • Novel Object
Reward-Seeking
  • Y-Maze
  • Radial Arm Maze
  • Conditioned Place Preference
Sensory
  • Acoustic Startle
  • Buried Pellet
  • Hotplate
  • Prepulse Inhibition

Behavioral Tests

all
Acoustic Startle

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

Acoustic Startle behavioral test

Balance Beam

Animals are trained to traverse beams of different sizes, where the start is brightly lit and the end is a dark box. The goal is for the animal is to maintain balance all the way to the safe platform.

  • Tests for: Motor coordination
  • Available for: Mouse
Bar Cross

Animals are allowed to walk across a wooden bar with obstacles and the number of foot slips is counted.

  • Tests for: Motor coordination
  • Available for: Mouse and Rat
Buried Pellet

Animals are placed in a test cage with 3 centimeters of bedding that has a food pellet buried below the surface. Latency to locate the food pellet is measured.

  • Tests for: Olfaction and reward seeking
  • Available for: Mouse and Rat
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

Conditioned Place Preference behavioral test

Conditioned Place Preference behavioral test

 

Dyadic Aggression

Individually-housed animals are matched with an equivalent mouse. Animals are placed in opposing sides of a neutral cage with a Plexiglas panel in the middle. Animals are allowed to interact for 30 minutes while the latency and number of aggressive bouts is measured.

  • Tests for: Aggression
  • Available for: Mouse
Elevated Plus Maze

Widely used for drug testing, it consists of a 4-arm maze in which two arms are open brightly lit and two 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

Elevated Plus Maze behavioral 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

Fear Conditioning behavioral test

Footprint

Front or hind paws of the animal are dipped into nontoxic paint. Animals are allowed to walk through an alley with blank white paper on the floor. Gait of the animal is then analyzed.

  • Tests for: Motor ability and locomotion
  • Available for: Mouse and 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
Hotplate

Animals are placed on a hotplate maintained at 55 ±0.1°C. Mice are confined to the hotplate by a Plexiglas cylinder. The time it takes the mouse to jump or lick its paw is measured with a stop watch.

  • Test for: Heat and pain sensitivity
  • Available for: Mouse and Rat
Inverted Screen

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
  • Available for: Mouse and Rat
Light-Dark Exploration

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

Light-Dark Box behavioral test

Marble Bury

Twenty-four (24) marbles are placed in a novel cage with 5 centimeter 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

Marble Bury behavioral test

Modified 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
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

Morris Water Maze behavioral 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

Novel Object behavior 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

Open Field behavioral test

Porsolt 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

Porsolt Forced Swim behavior test

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
Resident Intruder

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
Rotarod

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

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

Rotarod behavioral 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

Sociability behavioral test

Vertical Pole

Animals will be placed in the middle of a wood doweling, covered with cloth tape (to enhance traction), and gradually inclined to 90 degrees. The time to fall over a cage with ample bedding will be recorded.

  • Tests for: Motor coordination
  • Available for: Mouse and Rat
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 eight-arm maze, number of incorrect arm entries are used as a measure of learning.

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

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

Software

EthoVision

EthoVision

Video tracking software that allows for use of one camera on the overhead camera track or overhead tripod. Allows for multiple arenas via one camera input. Available for use in C0880 or C0885 (not concurrent).

EthoVision manufacturer's website

AnyMaze

AnyMaze

Video tracking software that allows for use of one camera on the overhead tripod or up to four available cameras in our four isolation chambers. Multiple arenas can be created from one camera input or up to four individual cameras. Available only in Room C0885.

AnyMaze manufacturer's website

Contact Us

For general inquiries and scheduling

For consultation or suggestions

Jennifer Sterrett
(414) 955-8620

Jake Adelman
(414) 955-2226