The objective of the General Behavior Domain is to screen animals for abnormalities in CNS function, as evidenced by aberrant performance on a behavioral task. Tasks within our screening battery provide multiple variables through which we are able to assess behavior. As it is currently structured, the General Behavior Domain includes six (6) screens. They are as follows:
1) Open-Field: Animals are screened for locomotor activity, general exploratory behavior (rears), intra-session habituation of locomotor activity, and general anxiety as measured by time spent in the center of the open field apparatus.
2) General Nociception: Nociceptive response is evaluated using a Hotplate analgesia meter.
3) Light/Dark: Animals are screened for anxiety-related behavior as measured by time spent in the light vs. dark compartments of a light/dark apparatus. The number of entries into each compartment is measured as well.
4) Learning and Memory: Animals are tested in a standard fear-conditioning paradigm. We evaluate contextual conditioning as measured by suppressed activity in the context where training occurred. We also measure Cue-conditioning by evaluating suppression of activity in a new environment in which the conditioned stimulus is presented.
5) Startle Response/Pre-pulse Inhibition: The animals’ startle response to auditory stimuli is evaluated as well as inhibition of the startle response elicited by pre-pulses or weak sounds preceding the louder acoustic stimulus.
6) Tail suspension: Animals are screened for behavioral despair, as measured by immobility, in a tail suspension test.
Animals tested in the General Behavior Domain are received from TMGC breeding facilities at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (Memphis) and the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Upon arrival, animals are allowed to acclimate to our facilities for a period of one week.
Protocols and procedures
Behavior Screening at ORNL