Equipment

IntelliCage

The IntelliCage (NewBehavior, TSE Systems) is a platform for the automated testing of mouse behaviours in the cognitive domain. It is ideal for phenotyping genetically modified mice, profiling animal models of diseases/disorders and screening for major cognitive deficits or enhancements caused by the administration of drugs, surgery, treatment etc.

IntelliCage

Features of the IntelliCage

Feature

Advantages

Testing arena is a large home cage

-Up to 16 animals can be tested simultaneously (high throughput!).

- Group-housing reduces stress-induced abnormal behaviour associated with isolation during testing. Therefore more natural behaviours are observed.

-The stress-causing transfer of animals from home cage to testing arena is eliminated.

-Long-term monitoring is possible.

Automated running of test battery and data acquisition

- Once testing commences, disturbance by operator handling is eliminated which therefore limits the behavioural effects of stress caused by human contact.

- The researcher does not need to be present during testing and so can allocate their time to other tasks.

-Behaviour is precisely quantitated and automatically recorded by the software for further processing. Manual “scoring” is not required.

-Animal activity can be observed in real time from a remote source, allowing more regular monitoring of their health status.

-Improved standardisation achieved by having minimal disturbance.

 

4 operant conditioning chambers per cage

- Multiple behaviours and cognitive functions can be tested in a number of animals simultaneously.

-Space and location can be factors in the experimental design.

RFID tags for animal identification

-Each animal is recognised individually by the system.

-Experimental groups can be co-housed.

-Each animal can be given a unique testing scheme.

-The behavioural profile can be built for each individual within each group and their progress tracked as the experiment runs.

Fully programmable experimental designs

-The researcher has a high amount of control over the experimental design and therefore can tailor it to their specific needs.

-Pre-made experimental modules are available for simple screening tasks.

Applications of the IntelliCage

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Test

Summary

Relevant areas of study

Place learning

Animal must learn to associate one chamber only with reward.

Spatial learning and memory (hippocampus). An effective test for general cognitive and learning ability therefore suitable for screening new animal models of schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, etc. for major cognitive deficits.

Reversal Learning

Animal must unlearn a learned  rule. eg. Unlearning a place preference gained during Place Learning.

Striatum (basal ganglia), prefrontal cortex (ADHD, schizophrenia).

Extinction

Animal is no longer required to adhere to any rules to be rewarded. Behaviour is assessed to ascertain pattern of reversion.

Striatum, prefrontal cortex.

Differential Reinforcement of Low Response Rate (DRL)

Animal must leave a specified delay between actions. e.g. only 2 nosepokes separated by a 3 second delay will elicit a reward.

Striatum, prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, septum. Impulsivity relating to models of schizophrenia or ADHD.

Fixed Ratio

Animal must learn to perform a consecutive action x number of times in order to be rewarded. e.g. animal must perform 5 consecutive nosepokes in 5 seconds.

Drug preference, endocannabinoid system, amygdala, prefrontal cortex, addictive behaviours.

Progressive Ratio

Same as Fixed Ratio except that the ratio is increased as the animal improves.

Drug preference, prefrontal cortex, addictive behaviours.

Patrolling

Animal must visit each corner in a specific order to obtain reward.

Spatial, working memory, reference memory, prefrontal cortex, hippocampus.

Cued conditioning

Animal must learn to respond to a cue and differentiate between different cues. e.g. Using 2 LEDs ON to signify “drinking available” with 6 LEDs ON meaning “drinking unavailable”.

Hippocampus, amygdala, prefrontal cortex.

Side Discrimination

Animal must discriminate between LHS and RHS within chamber. e.g. use left LEDs ON to signify “left side available” and right to mean “right side available”. Switch the rule so left LED mean RHS and vice versa.

General learning, procedural learning.

Novel Object

A novel object is placed under the grid in one of the chambers and chamber preference is monitored.

Hippocampus, Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, novelty seeking related to drug abuse.

Avoidance

Animals must learn to avoid a particular corner that will administer an airpuff upon entry or after a nosepoke.

Hippocampus, stress response, Alzheimer’s disease, long-term memory, anxiety studies.

Shuttling with serial reversal

Animals must alternatively visit 2 corners to obtain reward. After x sessions, the rewarded corners are switched to  the 2 previously unused corners etc.

Behavioural flexibility, spatial learning and memory, hippocampus.

Sucrose Preference

Animals are able to choose either water or a sucrose-water mixture. Degree of preference for sucrose is established.

Reward systems, depression (anti-depressant drug studies), stress studies.

See references

TopScan Software

This top-view based behaviour recognition software (CleverSys Inc.) automatically analyses videos of behavioural tasks that are filmed from above (e.g. mazes, open field activity, novel object recognition, conditioned place preference etc.). These are common tasks used to investigate learning and memory, cognition, drug effects, addiction, anxiety, depression, exploration, general locomotive behavior and other behaviours typically studied in the laboratory.

TopScan

The major advantages of this technology over similar commercially available systems are:

  • Higher throughput for all video-based analyses (32 videos may be analysed simultaneously);
  • Specifically developed for use on mice in a laboratory setting;
  • Highly accurate in distinguishing between observed behavioural components (sniffing, grooming, head dipping, elongation etc.);
  • Greater sensitivity in detecting subtle behaviours (involving highly accurate tracking of portions of body limbs rather than using the centre of the animal as the tracking point which is typical of other systems);
  • Wider range of behaviours and events detected;
  • More accurate and reliable when assessing social interactions with multiple animals;
  • Increased stability in sub-optimal lighting conditions.

This highly sophisticated technology enables researchers to analyse a range of rodent behaviors in a more accurate, efficient and flexible manner.

See references

Gait Analysis System

This complete gait analysis package (Clever Sys Inc.) includes a customised treadmill and GaitScan software. This is a highly sensitive and detailed means of investigating motor coordination and function in animal models of a range of pathophysiological conditions (such as neuropathic pain, spinal cord injury, neuromuscular diseases and Parkinson’s disease).

GaitScan

The test subject (rat or mouse) is forced to walk on a moving treadmill. The transparent belt allows for high speed video capture of the paws as the animal walks. The GaitScan system can detect and analyse many gait related measures such as paw pressure, stride length and frequency, toe spread, body rotation, gait angle, stride coupling, foot-foot spacing, body-foot spacing, plus many more.

See references

Conditioned Place Preference (CPP)

CPP (Clever Sys Inc.) is commonly used in preclinical stages to determine the rewarding and aversive effects of drugs. It may also be used to examine aspects of learning and memory, preference of other stimuli (e.g. food or copulation), reinforcement, Pavlovian conditioning etc.

CPP

Our setup of four 3-chamber CPP boxes completely integrates with the TopScan video analysis software for automated hardware control (doors, lights etc.), data collection and data analysis. This system can only be used in mouse studies.

See references

Rotarod

The Rotarod (IITC Inc.) is a very well established means of testing motor function in rodents. There are various measures of motor performance that can be assessed using this machine including balance, coordination, motor learning and fatigue/endurance. The rotarod test is a sensitive index of motor dysfunction as a result of drug treatment, injury, surgical procedure, genetic manipulation etc.
The Rotarod at the ABF can test up to 5 rodents at once and we have the necessary parts to accommodate both rats and mice. The software that complements this piece of equipment allows for the easy extraction and storage of data.

Rotarod

Features of the Rotarod

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Feature

Advantages

Programmable speed profiles

- Adjustable test length, start speed, top end speed, ramp speed and rotation direction (i.e. forward or reverse).

-Testing schedules can be refined which allows for a more sensitive assay for motor performance.

Digitally controlled

-Connects to software that records relevant measures (i.e. stopping RPM, length of test and distance travelled). Therefore, data is easily extracted and stored.

-No manual scoring required.

Magnetic switch mechanism

-Accurate detection of “animal drop”.

-No manual scoring required.

5 lanes

5 animals can be tested simultaneously.

Removable large and small rods

Compatible with both mice and rats

See references

Ultrasonic Vocalisation Analysis System

Avisoft Bioacoustics

This equipment (Avisoft Bioacoustics) is high quality and automated means of analysing rodent Ultrasonic Vocalisations (USVs). The key functions include:

  • ultrasonic signal detection and recording;
  • digital signal filtering and detailed spectral analyses of USVs across the whole spectrum of natural frequencies;
  • artificial USV generation and playback.

This system is purpose-designed for use on rodents in a laboratory setting. USV analysis is emerging as an increasingly valuable tool for behavioural phenotyping throughout the rodent lifespan and, in particular, for models of neurodevelopmental disorders.

See references

Balance Beam

Custom Made Balance Beam

Our balance beam is a custom built apparatus for the study of balance and coordination in mice. Animals must traverse the length of an elevated, exposed, narrow beam in order to reach the shelter of the goal box.

Features of the Balance Beam

Feature

Advantages

Mice will naturally seek out the darkness and protection of the goal box in favour of the exposed beam

Little training is required for this task.

We have a range of beam diameters and cross section shapes (i.e. round or flat)

The researcher may customise parameters to suit a particular research question.

The beam is inclined rather than horizontal

The animals are further encouraged to traverse the beam.

See references

Grip Strength Meters

Grip Strength Meters by Columbus Instruments

We have 2 digital forces gauges and accessories for testing muscle strength in rodent limbs. A trapeze-like horizontal bar (grasped by the forelimbs) or a grid (grasped by fore- and hind-limbs) attaches to a digital force gauge. Mice have a strong reflexive tendency to grasp the bar/grid and resist when pulled gently by the tail in the horizontal plane. The gauge will display the peak pull force required to disengage the animal from the bar/grid. This is a reproducible and discreet measure of maximum limb muscle strength. This device is useful for motor function and neuromuscular disease research.

See references

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