Touchscreen Cognitive Testing in Rodents
Touchscreen testing in rodents enables the assessment of targeted cognitive domains comparable to test batteries used in humans, such as the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB), with the goal of having greater relevance to human health and disease. Touchscreen cognitive testing has numerous advantages compared to traditional tests of learning and memory. First, a battery approach can be taken, running a variety of operant tasks using the same testing chamber, which helps control for potential confounds (e.g., types of stimuli, rewards, apparatus). Second, the semi-automated approach enables several behavioural measures to be assessed simultaneously (e.g., accuracy, reaction time, activity counts, omission rates) and minimizes experimenter contact with animals during testing. Third, the precision and control enabled by the tasks, allows us to assess specific aspects of cognition and functions in targeted brain regions. Finally, touchscreen testing is ideal to combine with neurotechnology such as electrophysiology, chemogenetics, and optogenetics. Thus, touchscreen testing in rodents is highly translatable to humans and enables the mapping of complex behaviour onto specific aspects of neurobiology with the highest level of precision and control.
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