OPERANT LEARNING

Automatic operant conditioning

Erskin, A., Bus, T., Herb, J.T., Schaefer, A.T. PLoS One 14, e0211571 (2019)

To increase the throughput of training and testing multiple mice on an operant conditioning task while keeping handling to a minimum, researchers from the Francis Crick Institute in London have developed the ‘AutonoMouse’ house. It’s a two-story home cage that can house up to 25 radio-frequency identification tagged mice at a time. The mice eat, sleep, and recreate on the lower level and ascend upstairs to perform an operant conditioning task to receive water. Humans need only be involved for health checks and cage cleanings.

The researchers demonstrate the AutonoMouse with olfactory discrimination tasks to automatically test mice before and after experimentally induced olfactory bulb lesions, which were shown to impair odor discrimination. The AutonoMouse design is open source, and more details can be found in the paper and on GitHub.

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Correspondence to Ellen P. Neff.

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Neff, E.P. Automatic operant conditioning. Lab Anim 48, 139 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41684-019-0301-2

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