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Curr Protoc Neurosci. 2011 Jul;Chapter 8:Unit 8.26. doi: 10.1002/0471142301.ns0826s56.

Automated three-chambered social approach task for mice.

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Laboratory of Behavioral Neuroscience, National Institute of Mental Health, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.


Autism is diagnosed by three major symptom categories: unusual reciprocal social interactions, impaired communication, and repetitive behaviors with restricted interests. Direct social approach in mice has strong face validity to simple social approach behaviors in humans, which are frequently impaired in autism. This unit presents a basic protocol for a standardized, high-throughput social approach test for assaying mouse sociability. Our automated three-chambered social approach task quantifies direct social approach behaviors when a subject mouse is presented with the choice of spending time with either a novel mouse or a novel object. Sociability is defined as the subject mouse spending more time in the chamber containing the novel target mouse than in the chamber containing the inanimate novel object. The Basic Protocol describes procedures for testing one subject at a time in a single apparatus. A Support Protocol addresses data collection.

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