Social Behavior Tests

Several customized behavioral tests are offered to phenotype mouse and rat models and evaluate effects of compounds in different in vivo models.

New behavioral tests are continuously developed and validated.

Autogrooming Test

Grooming is a normal behavior of healthy mice to clean themselves. It can be distinguished between social grooming (grooming of another mouse) and autogrooming (self grooming). In socially disturbed animals, autogrooming can be strongly increased. This behavior can mostly be observed when animals are housed separately.

For this test, animals are therefore housed separately for three days. On the 4th day, animals are placed in the open field box and after a habituation phase of 10 minutes, animals are filmed for another 10 minutes. It is measured, how much time animals spent autogrooming within this 10 minutes.

Allogrooming figure_grooming boutsAutogrooming in 2-month old male BTBR mice compared to wildtype animals. Number of grooming bouts within the 10 minutes test period (left) and mean duration of all grooming bouts in seconds. n = 14 per group. Mean + SEM. T-test; *p<0.05.

The Reeperbahn Test

The Reeperbahn Test is a space-learning paradigm in which male subjects have to learn the location of a female in a dry-land apparatus.

Males can freely explore the arena during learning. In the recall sessions, males are placed back in the same environment while females are absent. During the whole test, animals receive no rewards or punishments. In addition to automated behaviour measurements like total locomotion activity, index of learning and recall, also the ultrasound vocalisation of males and ultraviolet urine mark measurements can be performed.

Experimental set-up of the Reeperbahn test. Testing for learning and reversal learning is possible. Females are tested for estrus cycle before use.

Three Chamber Social Test

The three chamber social test analyzes for social deficits and social recognition in rodents. The test uses the natural social behavior of rodents to prefer company over being alone.

The test apparatus consists of three chambers that are inter-connected. Social approach and social recognition can be measured.

Social Approach: A mouse is placed under a wire cage in the left chamber of the test apparatus. An empty wire cage is placed in the right chamber. The test animal is placed in the middle chamber and it is measured, how long the test mouse spends in each chamber or sniffs at each wire cage. The test is videotaped for 10 minutes. Animals can smell, see and hear each other but direct body contact is not possible. Healthy animals will explore each chamber, but will spend most of the time with the conspecific while socially disturbed mice will spend less time with the conspecific.

Social Recognition: After the social approach test, mice are immediately tested for social recognition. Therefore, the already known mouse stays in the left chamber and a new mouse is placed under the wire cage in the right chamber. The test mouse is again placed in the middle chamber and it is for 10 minutes measured how much time the animal spends in each chamber and spends sniffing at the already known or new mouse. Healthy mice will spend more time with the new conspecific due to novelty. Socially disturbed mice might not recognise the already known conspecific and spend therefore similar times in each chamber or the middle chamber.

3 chamber social test figure_social approach & recognitionThree chamber social interaction test of BTBR mice. Time spent sniffing in seconds at the unfamiliar mouse or the empty cup during social approach (left) and the time spent sniffing in seconds at the familiar or the unfamiliar mouse during social recognition (right). BTBR: n = 15; nTg: ns = 14 (males only). Mean + SEM. T-test. *p<0.05; **p<0.01; ***p<0.001.