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J Am Assoc Lab Anim Sci. 2012 Nov;51(6):764-8.

Rats housed on corncob bedding show less slow-wave sleep.

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Neuroscience Research, Global Pharmaceutical Research and Development, Abbott Laboratories, Abbott Park, Illinois, USA.


Despite the reported advantages of corncob bedding, questions have emerged about how comfortable animals find this type of bedding as a resting surface. In this study, encephalography (EEG) was used to compare the effects of corncob and aspen-chip bedding on rat slow-wave sleep (SWS). According to a facility-wide initiative, rats that were weaned on aspen-chip bedding were switched to corncob bedding in home cages and EEG recording chambers. Spontaneous EEG recordings obtained for 5 wk after the switch to corncob bedding demonstrated that rats spent significantly less time in SWS as compared with levels measured on aspen chips just prior to the bedding switch. SWS remained low even after a 5-wk acclimation period to the corncob bedding. We then acutely switched back to aspen-chip bedding in EEG recording chambers. Acute reinstatement of aspen-chip bedding during EEG recording was associated with an average 22% increase in time spent in SWS, with overall levels of SWS comparable to the levels measured on aspen chips prior to the change to corncob bedding. Aspen-chip bedding subsequently was reinstated in both home cages and EEG recording chambers, and SWS baseline levels were restored. These data raise important concerns about the effects of corncob bedding on rodents used in research.

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