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J Neurosci Methods. 2013 Mar 30;214(1):52-61. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2012.12.022. Epub 2013 Jan 23.

The bradykinesia assessment task: an automated method to measure forelimb speed in rodents.

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School of Behavioral Brain Sciences, The University of Texas at Dallas, 800 West Campbell Road, GR41, Richardson, TX 75080-3021, USA.


Bradykinesia in upper extremities is associated with a wide variety of motor disorders; however, there are few tasks that assay forelimb movement speed in rodent models. This study describes the bradykinesia assessment task, a novel method to quantitatively measure forelimb speed in rats. Rats were trained to reach out through a narrow slot in the cage and rapidly press a lever twice within a predefined time window to receive a food reward. The task provides measurement of multiple parameters of forelimb function, including inter-press interval, number of presses per trial, and success rate. The bradykinesia assessment task represents a significant advancement in evaluating bradykinesia in rat models because it directly measures forelimb speed. The task is fully automated, so a single experimenter can test multiple animals simultaneously with typically in excess of 300 trials each per day, resulting in high statistical power. Several parameters of the task can be modified to adjust difficulty, which permits application to a broad spectrum of motor dysfunction models. Here we show that two distinct models of brain damage, ischemic lesions of primary motor cortex and hemorrhagic lesions of the dorsolateral striatum, cause impairment in all facets of performance measured by the task. The bradykinesia assessment task provides insight into bradykinesia and motor dysfunction in multiple disease models and may be useful in assessing therapies that aim to improve forelimb function following brain damage.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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