Testing of novel therapeutics for neuronal disease is dependent on valid animal models expressing elements of pathological and/or behavioral changes detected in human patients. In the area of cognition, animal model behavior does not directly translate to human conditions, as the majority of conventional behavioral tests done on animals involve experimental settings (e.g., water maze or fear conditioning) that cannot be compared directly to human assessments.
This video shows how touchscreen testing is used to identify cognitive changes and flexibility in neurodegeneration and apathetic responses in depression studies.
To overcome this barrier, Charles River offers mouse behavior analysis via touchscreen-based tests. The touchscreen tests possess several advantages over traditional methods of rodent cognitive assessment.
- Touchscreen-based tests are highly translational as they rely on the stimuli (images and locations on a computer screen) and actions (screen touches) similar to those used in human cognitive assessments, e.g., the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB).
- These tests can measure a variety of neuropsychological constructs, some of which are rarely addressed in non-touchscreen tasks (e.g., cognitive flexibility, vigilance and response inhibition).
- Touchscreen tests have positive appetite motivation and minimal motor demands. Animals are never excessively stressed or punished, but instead receive food rewards for correct responses.
- Due to their emphasis on sustained performance, touchscreen tests can be used in longitudinal pharmacological studies.
- Non-invasive touchscreen assessments allow for the simultaneous or subsequent use of animals in other behavioral or functional experiments (e.g., MRI), which facilitates comparison and compilation of outputs from multiple experimental types.