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Elsevier, Behavioural Brain Research, 1(220), p. 152-158

DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2011.01.054

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The COGITAT holeboard system as a valuable tool to assess learning, memory and activity in mice

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This paper is available in a repository.

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Abstract

The comprehensive and stress-free assessment of various aspects of learning and memory is a prerequisite to evaluate mouse models for neuropsychiatric disorders such as Alzheimer's disease or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). COGITAT is an automated holeboard system allowing simultaneous assessment of spatial working and reference-memory performance which we have adapted in this study to enable its usage with mice. The holeboard apparatus consists of an open-field chamber with a 25-hole floor insert, each hole being monitored by infrared light beams, located on three different levels, allowing the distinction between visits of holes, i.e. the animal reaches the bottom of the hole, or inspections, which means only superficial exploration of the hole. Across trials, animals learn a pattern of five baited holes. Here, we show that C57BL/6 mice readily acquire this task within 5 days when submitted to six trials per day. A number of individual parameters - overall exploratory activity, number of visits into or inspections of holes, number of baited, unbaited, or previously baited holes visited or inspected, reinspections of or revisits into any holes, number of pellets eaten, time to find pellets, and reference and working memory errors-are obtained simultaneously and results are immediately available after the end of each experiment. The muscarinic antagonist scopolamine impaired task performance, while the cognitive enhancer metrifonate (an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor) reduced error rates. Overall, our data indicate that this spatial learning task will be useful to characterize spatial memory in various genetic or pharmacological mouse models.