Novel object exploration as a potential assay for higher order repetitive behaviors in mice.
Restricted, repetitive behaviors (RRBs) are a core feature of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and disrupt the lives of affected individuals. RRBs are commonly split into lower-order and higher-order components, with lower order RRBs consisting of motor stereotypies and higherorder RRBs consisting of perseverative and sequencing behaviors. Higher order RRBs are challenging to model in mice. Current assays for RRBs in mice focus primarily on the lower order components, making basic biomedical research into potential treatments or interventions for higher-order RRBs difficult. Here we describe a new assay, novel object exploration. This assay uses a basic open-field arena with four novelobjects placed around the perimeter. The test mouse is allowed to freely explore the arena and the order in which the mouse investigates the novel objects is recorded. From these data, patterned sequences of exploration can be identified, as can the most preferred object for each mouse. The representative data shared here and past results using the novel object exploration assay illustrate that inbred mouse strains do demonstrate different behavior in this assay and that strains with elevated lower order RRBs also show elevated patterned behavior. As such, the novel object exploration assay appears to possess good face validity for higher order RRBs in humans and may be a valuable assay for future studies investigating novel therapeutics for ASD.
Journal of Visualized Experiments
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