You are here

Special Session: The Development of a Diverse Battery of Behavioral Tasks Using Touchscreen Equipped Operant Boxes for the Study of Cognition in the Rodent

Date:  Thursday August 30

Organiser: John Talpos, Janssen Pharmaceutica, Beerse, Belgium

Abstract: The use of touchscreen equipped operant boxes for the study of cognition in rodents  has grown in popularity since the mid-1990s, when the first publications using the  method appeared. The combination of numerous stimuli types and the large number of  response rules that may be implemented when using a touchscreen equipped operant  box affords the user much of the flexibility of a maze-based hand testing approach, with  the consistency and throughput associated with operant testing. Accordingly, touchscreen  technology is currently being used by a growing number of academic and industrial  research groups. These groups are reinventing existing approaches, and creating the next  generation of behavioral tasks to study cognition in the rodent.

This session will provide a general overview of the touchscreen approach, and demonstrate  how it is making a unique contribution to the study of basic cognitive function and central  nervous system disorders. Four areas will be discussed in additional detail. First is use of  the touchscreen approach to study spatial “cognition” and neurogenesis using the trial  unique non-match to location (TUNL) task and related paradigms, as well as a test of  spatial reversal learning. Moreover this session will bridge the species boundary by also  discussing how spatial cognition is studied in non-human primates using the touchscreen- based self ordered spatial search paradigm. Secondly, because one of the most frequently  used tasks within the touchscreen apparatus is the “visual discrimination”, the utility of  visual discriminations in studying animal models of schizophrenia will be discussed, as will  the cross-site validation of pharmacological manipulations that is occurring within the  NEWMEDS academic-industrial collaboration as part of the IMI (www.newmeds-europe. com). Next (3), the use of the touchscreen approach in studying cognitive flexibility will  be considered with a focus on reversal learning and other novel developments. Finally  (4), an overview of a touchscreen based paired associates learning (PAL) paradigm will  be presented with a focus on its utility in the study of schizophrenia. This presentation  will discuss the influence of specific brain regions on behavior in PAL, pharmacological  sensitivity, as well steps that have been taken towards developing an acute model of  schizophrenia for drug discovery.  

Through this diverse combination of topics and speakers, we hope to provide a firsthand  practical account of how this technology is being applied in academic and industrial  settings to enhance research methods for the study of cognition and novel treatments  for disease. The session will close with a dedicated question and answer period where  attendees will have the chance to ask speakers questions of a practical and theoretical  nature regarding their research using the touchscreen approach, and to allow a more  thorough discussion of ongoing touchscreen activities with various IMI consortia (


Please note that the order of talks is a little different from in the program book.

10:00  The Touchscreen Cognitive Testing Method for Mice And Rats
  Tim Bussey
  University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

10:40  Coffee break

11:10  Pharmacological Manipulation of a Rodent Paired Associates Learning (Pal)  Paradigm, and other Tasks for Use in Disease Research
  J. C. Talpos
  Janssen Research and Development, Beerse, Belgium.

11:30   Assessment of Behavioural Flexibility and Executive Function Using Novel  Touch Screen Paradigms
  A.C. Mar (1), J. Alsiö (1), A. Haddenhorst (1), C.U. Wallis (1), A. Trecker (2), L.M. Saksida (1), 
  T.J. Bussey 1 , andT.W. Robbins 1 
  1 University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.
  2 Heinrich-Heine Universitaet Duesseldorf, Germany.

11:50   How Can a Touchscreen Based Visual Discrimination Help to Better Characterize Rodent Models of Schizophrenia?
  L. Fellini
  Janssen Research and Development, Beerse, Belgium.

12:10   Pannel discussion with the presenters of the papers in this session and Sophie  Dix (Eli Lilly, United Kingdom).

12:30  End of session