A comparative approach to the early behavior development in mice

I. Zarayskaya, E. Alexandrova and K. Anokhin

P.K. Anokhin Institute of Normal Physiology, Moscow, Russia

Recent development of transgenic and knockout technologies stimulates new interest to comparative studies of mouse postnatal development. In order to provide a background for the analysis of the effects of targeted mutations on mouse behavioral development, we have designed a battery of tests that characterize maturation of a set of sensorimotor functions, behavioral traits and learning abilities in mice from birth to weaning. The main criterion for the selection of tasks into this battery was the postnatal age- and behavior-specific validity of the experimental tasks that were recruited from developmental neurobiology and psychobiology.

In its present form, the battery includes:

Learning models of one-trial olfactory conditioning and social transmission of food preference where mother was used as a demonstrator are also included in the battery. Additionaly animal behavior patterns under conditions of isolation and social interactions are recorded and analysed. The role of maternal care is estimated by the pups transfer test.

The proposed battery allows researchers to evaluate the developmental contribution of different components of the pre- and postnatal environment including gender, individual experience, social environment and maternal behavior. Our application of this battery for a number of tasks demonstrates its validity and sensitivity for comparative analysis at the individual, population and inter-strain levels.

Poster presented at Measuring Behavior 2000, 3rd International Conference on Methods and Techniques in Behavioral Research, 15-18 August 2000, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

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