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The Behavioral Assessment of Sensorimotor Processes in the Mouse: Acoustic Startle, Sensory Gating, Locomotor Activity, Rotarod, and Beam Walking.


In: Buccafusco JJ, editor.


Methods of Behavior Analysis in Neuroscience. 2nd edition. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2009. Chapter 8.
Frontiers in Neuroscience.


Assessment of sensorimotor competence is an important part of the evaluation of animal behavior. Measurement of sensorimotor performance is of obvious importance in investigations of sensory or motor processes; however, the effects of experimental manipulations on sensorimotor performance have broader implications for behavioral neuroscience because behavioral experiments typically measure motor responses to sensory information. Thus, the results of behavioral experiments designed to assess other neurobiological processes often cannot be properly interpreted without considering concomitant effects on sensorimotor function. For example, if a lesion or genetic manipulation impairs performance on a spatial memory test, such as the radial arm maze, this impairment cannot be interpreted as evidence of cognitive dysfunction unless it is first established that it is not the result of sensorimotor deficits. Moreover, sensorimotor effects of manipulations can often be used in animal models as surrogates for effects that are more difficult to measure, and relatively simple variations of sensorimotor measures can be used as indices of performance in other behavioral domains, including cognition and emotion. A number of behavioral tasks have been designed to assess sensorimotor performance in rodents, and this chapter focuses on five general procedures—acoustic startle, sensory gating, open field exploration, rotarod, and beam walking.

Copyright © 2009, Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

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