Lead PI: R. Holly Fitch
Title of Project: Cognitive task development for mouse neurogenetic models
Research on genetically engineered mouse models is growing rapidly, with particular emphasis on phenotypes that can tie causal genetic mutations/variations to clinical conditions such as autism, depression, schizophrenia, and language disorders. To accomplish this, well-established and "mouse-friendly” tasks (Morris and other mazes, Open Field, novel object, rotarod, and various social paradigms) are often used. The application of engineered mouse models to the study of complex human cognition, however, calls for the development and validation of new tasks that can link to additional aspects of higher-order cognition such as categorization, object-constancy, structural logic, and other forms of rule-learning. A set of 4 new touch-screen operant testing stations recently acquired by the MBNF will be used to develop novel testing programs (via custom software) that can tap such cognitive measures in mice, and thus be used to study genetic modulation of cognition. Once validated, the tasks will seed future behavioral neurogenetic projects for the PIs, as well as others in the field.