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Object recognition in rats and mice: a one-trial non-matching-to-sample learning task to study 'recognition memory'


Rats and mice have a tendency to interact more with a novel object than with a familiar object. This tendency has been used by behavioral pharmacologists and neuroscientists to study learning and memory. A popular protocol for such research is the object-recognition task. Animals are first placed in an apparatus and allowed to explore an object. After a prescribed interval, the animal is returned to the apparatus, which now contains the familiar object and a novel object. Object recognition is distinguished by more time spent interacting with the novel object. Although the exact processes that underlie this 'recognition memory' requires further elucidation, this method has been used to study mutant mice, aging deficits, early developmental influences, nootropic manipulations, teratological drug exposure and novelty seeking.

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We thank Jessica Linkugel for converting 8-mm video of a novel-object test into a digital file for this protocol. R.A.B. was partially supported by United States Public Health Service grant DA018114 and DA017086 while writing this protocol. J.B. was supported by AA016009.

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Correspondence to Rick A Bevins.

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Object Recognition Test (MOV 13043 kb)

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Bevins, R., Besheer, J. Object recognition in rats and mice: a one-trial non-matching-to-sample learning task to study 'recognition memory'. Nat Protoc 1, 1306–1311 (2006).

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