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Brain Res Bull. 2001 Jan 15;54(2):243-50.

The staircase test of skilled reaching in mice.

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School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales, UK.


The "staircase" test has become established for measurement of side-specific deficits in coordinated paw reaching in rats, and has been shown to reveal impairments on the contralateral side following unilateral lesions in a wide range of motor structures of the brain. As mice become more widely used in behavioural neuroscience, we have scaled down the staircase reaching test for application to this latter species. We here validate the test in C57BL/6J mice by (a) establishing the optimal dimensions of the apparatus, (b) comparing the effects of test parameters including sex, test duration, levels of deprivation and alternative reward pellets, and (c) demonstrating contralateral deficits after aspirative lesions of the motor cortex. Differences between mice and rats in normal performance of the task are noted. The staircase test provides a simple objective test of skilled motor function that allows measurement of lateralised effects without unduly constraining the animal, and which may prove as useful for mice as has previously been demonstrated in rats.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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