The touchscreen operant platform for testing working memory and pattern separation in rats and mice.

Oomen, Charlotte A.; Hvoslef-Eide, Martha; Heath, Christopher J.; Mar, Adam C.; Horner, Alexa E.; Bussey, Timothy J. and Saksida, Lisa M. (2013). The touchscreen operant platform for testing working memory and pattern separation in rats and mice. Nature Protocols, 8(10) pp. 2006–2021.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/nprot.2013.124

Abstract

The automated touchscreen operant chamber for rats and mice allows for the assessment of multiple cognitive domains within the same testing environment. This protocol presents the location discrimination (LD) task and the trial-unique delayed nonmatching-to-location (TUNL) task, which both assess memory for location. During these tasks, animals are trained to a predefined criterion during ∼20-40 daily sessions. In LD sessions, touching the same location on the screen is rewarded on consecutive trials, followed by a reversal of location-reward contingencies. TUNL, a working memory task, requires animals to 'nonmatch' to a sample location after a delay. In both the LD and TUNL tasks, spatial similarity can be varied, allowing assessment of pattern separation ability, a function that is thought to be performed by the dentate gyrus (DG). These tasks are therefore particularly useful in animal models of hippocampal, and specifically DG, function, but they additionally permit discernment of changes in pattern separation from those in working memory.

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