The rodent behavior core allows assessment of common psychiatric disease-relevant animal behaviors such as anxiety, spontaneous activity, depression-like behavior and cognition.

Tests for anxiety:

Elevated Plus-Maze for rats (Ugo Basile)
Elevated plus maze is used to assess anxiety-like behavior in rodents. The apparatus consists of a plus-shaped platform and is elevated above ground-level. Two of the arms have high walls and two of the arms do not have walls, allowing rodents to view the drop to the floor below. Rodents are placed at the intersection of the plus-shape and allowed free-exploration of the maze for a period of time. As prey animals, rodents typically prefer to spend time in the more secure closed arms of the maze. However, genetic or pharmacologic manipulation or a disease state will cause rodents to spend more time exploring the open arms. Total time spent exploring open and closed arms of the maze is recorded to determine if rodents have anxiety-like behavior.

Black and White box test (Harvard Apparatus)
Black-white box is used to assess anxiety-like behavior in rodents. Rodents are placed in an arena consisting of a black, closed area and a white, open area and allowed free exploration for a period of time. As prey animals, rodents typically prefer to spend time in the more secure black, enclosed area of the apparatus. However, genetic or pharmacologic manipulation or a disease state will cause rodents to spend more time exploring the open, white side of the chamber. Total time spent exploring black and white side is recorded to determine if rodents have anxiety-like behavior.
 

Tests for depression:

Forced Swimming test apparatus (IITC Life Science)
Forced swimming test is most commonly used to assess depression-like behavior, and may also be used as a stressor in the chronic mild stress paradigm. To assess depression like behavior, rodents are placed in a cylinder of room-temperature water, from which escape is impossible, for a period of time. Rodents spend time alternating between swimming behavior and immobility. Exaggerated immobility behavior is a depression-like phenotype. Genetic or pharmacologic manipulation or a disease state will cause rodents to expend more or less time displaying immobility behavior.

Tail Suspension Test (mice, small rats only) (Harvard Apparatus):
Tail suspension is used to assess depression-like behavior. Rodents are placed suspended upside-down by the tail for a period of time. Rodents spend time alternating between struggling to escape and immobility. Exaggerated immobility behavior is a depression-like phenotype. Genetic or pharmacologic manipulation or a disease state will cause rodents to expend more or less time displaying immobility behavior. Tail suspension test is only suitable for mice or small rats due to the stress of the body weight on the tail.

Tests for activity level:

Open-field Apparatus (IITC Life Science):
Rodents are placed in an open arena and spontaneous exploration activity is recorded by an observer. Genetic or pharmacologic manipulation or a disease state will alter rodent spontaneous activity.

Activity monitoring systems: (IITC Life Science):
Rodents are placed in an open arena and spontaneous exploration activity is recorded by a series of infrared beams. Genetic or pharmacologic manipulation or a disease state will alter rodent spontaneous activity.

Tests for cognition:

8 Arm Radial Maze (rats only) (Harvard Apparatus)
This apparatus is an elevated maze with 8 arms radiating from a central point. First, rats are acclimated to the apparatus by having a period of time over the course of a few days to freely explore all arms. For training, 4 of 8 arms of the maze are consistently baited with food for several days while the other arms remain empty. Visual cues placed around the testing room assist rats in learning the location of the baited arms. Over time, rats learn to efficiently maneuver the maze and only enter baited arms. Entries into non-baited arms are counted as errors. With this test we can measure working memory and spatial memory.

Morris Water Maze test (Ugo Basile)
The apparatus is a large tank filled with room-temperature water that contains a hidden platform. Rodents are placed in the tank of water and must use swimming exploration to find the hidden platform in the water. Visual cues are placed around the testing room so that animals can learn the location of the hidden platform. Over time rodents are able to quickly find the location of the platform. If the platform is removed, rodents with normal cognition will spend more time swimming in the quadrant that previously contained the platform. This assay is primarily used to assess spatial memory.

Passive Avoidance Test (Harvard Apparatus)
The apparatus is a chamber with a grid bar floor with a large open white side and a small enclosed black side. As prey animals, rodents typically prefer to spend time in the more secure black, enclosed area of the apparatus. On the training day rodents are allowed to freely explore both sides of the chamber. Upon entry to the black side they receive a foot shock. Upon reintroduction to the chamber, rodents with normal cognition will have an increased latency to enter the black side where they have previously received a footshock. This is an aversive learning and memory test for contextual memory.

Freezing and Startle Combined System (Harvard Apparatus)
The apparatus is a chamber with a grid bar floor and can be used to test aversive learning and memory or startle response (sensorimotor gating). As a learning and memory test, rodents are allowed free exploration of the chamber for several minutes on training day. A sound cue is then played and rodents receive a footshock. Upon reintroduction to the chamber, rodents with normal cognition will spend more time freezing as an expression of fear behavior. Upon reintroduction to the chamber environment with a disguised context the rodents will explore the “new” area, but will spend time freezing after they hear the sound cue associated with the shock. This is an aversive learning and memory test for contextual and cue memory.

Equipment to induce psychiatric-like disease in rodents:

Learned Helplessness (Ugo Basile)
Learned helplessness is used to induce depression-like behavior. Rodents are placed in a box with an electrified floor and exposed to inescapable and unpredictable foot shocks.

Other equipment:

Tail Flick Analgesia Meter (Ugo Basile)
This apparatus measures pain perception in rodents.

Sociability apparatus (Ugo Basile)
This apparatus measures social behavior in rodents.

Faculty & Postdocs

Faculty

de Quevedo, Joao L. treatment-resistant

Joao L. de Quevedo, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor Director, Translational Psychiatry Program
Director, Treatment-Resistant Mood Disorders Program

Barichello, Tatiana immunology psychiatry.

Tatiana Barichello, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Postdocs

  • Vijayasree V. Giridharan, MPharm, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Contact Us

Phone: 713-486-2653
Email: Vijayasree.V.Giridharan@uth.tmc.edu

Behavioral and Biomedical Services Building (BBSB)
1941 East Road
Houston, TX 77054