Format

Send to

Choose Destination
J Vis Exp. 2014 Dec 29;(94). doi: 10.3791/52225.

The use of the puzzle box as a means of assessing the efficacy of environmental enrichment.

Author information

1
Discipline of Physiology, University of Sydney.
2
Discipline of Physiology, University of Sydney; Bosch Animal Behavioural Facility, University of Sydney.
3
Discipline of Physiology, University of Sydney; atomu@medsci.usyd.edu.au.

Abstract

Environmental enrichment can dramatically influence the development and function of neural circuits. Further, enrichment has been shown to successfully delay the onset of symptoms in models of Huntington's disease (1-4), suggesting environmental factors can evoke a neuroprotective effect against the progressive, cellular level damage observed in neurodegenerative disorders. The ways in which an animal can be environmentally enriched, however, can vary considerably. Further, there is no straightforward manner in which the effects of environmental enrichment can be assessed: most methods require either fairly complicated behavioral paradigms and/or postmortem anatomical/physiological analyses. This protocol describes the use of a simple and inexpensive behavioral assay, the Puzzle Box (5-7) as a robust means of determining the efficacy of increased social, sensory and motor stimulation on mice compared to cohorts raised in standard laboratory conditions. This simple problem solving task takes advantage of a rodent's innate desire to avoid open enclosures by seeking shelter. Cognitive ability is assessed by adding increasingly complex impediments to the shelter's entrance. The time a given subject takes to successfully remove the obstructions and enter the shelter serves as the primary metric for task performance. This method could provide a reliable means of rapidly assessing the efficacy of different enrichment protocols on cognitive function, thus paving the way for systematically determining the role specific environmental factors play in delaying the onset of neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disease.

PMID:
25590345
PMCID:
PMC4354494
DOI:
10.3791/52225
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for MyJove Corporation Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center