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PLoS Comput Biol. 2008 Feb 29;4(2):e1000027. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000027.

Mouse cognition-related behavior in the open-field: emergence of places of attraction.

Author information

1
Department of Zoology, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel. annadv@post.tau.ac.il

Abstract

Spatial memory is often studied in the Morris Water Maze, where the animal's spatial orientation has been shown to be mainly shaped by distal visual cues. Cognition-related behavior has also been described along "well-trodden paths"--spatial habits established by animals in the wild and in captivity reflecting a form of spatial memory. In the present study we combine the study of Open Field behavior with the study of behavior on well-trodden paths, revealing a form of locational memory that appears to correlate with spatial memory. The tracked path of the mouse is used to examine the dynamics of visiting behavior to locations. A visit is defined as either progressing through a location or stopping there, where progressing and stopping are computationally defined. We then estimate the probability of stopping at a location as a function of the number of previous visits to that location, i.e., we measure the effect of visiting history to a location on stopping in it. This can be regarded as an estimate of the familiarity of the mouse with locations. The recently wild-derived inbred strain CZECHII shows the highest effect of visiting history on stopping, C57 inbred mice show a lower effect, and DBA mice show no effect. We employ a rarely used, bottom-to-top computational approach, starting from simple kinematics of movement and gradually building our way up until we end with (emergent) locational memory. The effect of visiting history to a location on stopping in it can be regarded as an estimate of the familiarity of the mouse with locations, implying memory of these locations. We show that the magnitude of this estimate is strain-specific, implying a genetic influence. The dynamics of this process reveal that locations along the mouse's trodden path gradually become places of attraction, where the mouse stops habitually.

PMID:
18463701
PMCID:
PMC2265485
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000027
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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