New translational assays for preclinical modelling of cognition in schizophrenia: The touchscreen testing method for mice and rats

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Abstract

We describe a touchscreen method that satisfies a proposed ‘wish-list’ of desirables for a cognitive testing method for assessing rodent models of schizophrenia. A number of tests relevant to schizophrenia research are described which are currently being developed and validated using this method. These tests can be used to study reward learning, memory, perceptual discrimination, object-place associative learning, attention, impulsivity, compulsivity, extinction, simple Pavlovian conditioning, and other constructs. The tests can be deployed using a ‘flexible battery’ approach to establish a cognitive profile for a particular mouse or rat model. We have found these tests to be capable of detecting not just impairments in function, but enhancements as well, which is essential for testing putative cognitive therapies. New tests are being continuously developed, many of which may prove particularly valuable for schizophrenia research.

This article is part of a Special Issue entitled ‘Schizophrenia’.

Highlights

▸ We describe a touchscreen method for assaying cognition in rodent models. ▸ A number of tests relevant to schizophrenia research are described. ▸ The tests can be used to study multiple aspects of cognition. ▸ The tests can be combined in a flexible battery to establish a cognitive profile. ▸ The tests are capable of detecting both impairments and enhancements in function.

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