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Curr Protoc Toxicol. 2017 May 2;72:11.22.1-11.22.21. doi: 10.1002/cptx.19.

Behavioral Phenotyping for Autism Spectrum Disorders in Mice.

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Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.
Center on Human Development and Disability, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.
Department of Neuroscience, University of Parma Medical School, Parma, Italy.


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) represents a heterogeneous group of disorders characterized by alterations in three behavioral symptom domains: Social interactions, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors. Increasing prevalence of ASD in recent years suggests that exposure to environmental toxicants may be critical in modulating etiology of this disease. As clinical diagnosis of autism still relies on behavioral evaluation, it is important to be able to assess similar behavioral traits in animal models, to provide biological plausibility of associations between environmental exposures and ASD. Rodents naturally exhibit a large number of behaviors that can be linked to similar behaviors in human. In this unit, behavioral tests are described that are relevant to the domains affected in ASD. For the repetitive domain, the T-maze spontaneous alternation test and marble burying test are described. For the communication domain, neonatal ultrasonic vocalization and olfactory habituation test toward social and non-social odor are described. Finally, for the sociability domain, the three-chambered social preference test and the reciprocal interaction test are presented.


autism spectrum disorders; behavior; mouse; obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD); olfactory communication; social behavior; ultrasonic vocalization

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