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Durham University



Publication details for Dr Alexander Easton

Chan, Michele, Eacott, Madeline J., Sanderson, David J., Wang, Jianfei, Sun, Mu & Easton, Alexander (2018). Continual trials spontaneous recognition tasks in mice: reducing animal numbers and improving our understanding of the mechanisms underlying memory. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 12: 214.

Author(s) from Durham


Spontaneous recognition tasks are widely used as a laboratory measure of memory in animals but give rise to high levels of behavioural noise leading to a lack of reliability. Previous work has shown that a modification of the procedure to allow continual trials testing (in which many trials are run concurrently in a single session) decreases behavioural noise and thus significantly reduces the numbers of rats required to retain statistical power. Here we demonstrate for the first time that this improved method of testing extends to mice, increasing the overall power of the approach. Moreover, our results show that the new continual trials approach provides the additional benefits of heightened sensitivity and thus provides greater insight into the mechanisms at play. Standard (c57) and transgenic Alzheimer model (TASTPM) mice were tested both at 7 and 10 months of age in both object recognition (OR) and object location (OL) spontaneous recognition tasks using the continual trials methodology. Both c57 and TASTPM mice showed age-dependent changes in performance in OR. While c57 mice also showed age-related changes in performance of OL, TASTPM mice were unable to perform OL at either age. Significantly, we demonstrate that differences in OL performance in c57s and TASTPM animals is a result of proactive interference rather than an absolute inability to recognise object-location combinations. We argue that these continual trials approaches provide overall improved reliability and better interpretation of the memory ability of mice, as well as providing a significant reduction in overall animal use.

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