Protocols in Current Issue
Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 3714 Views Jan 5, 2020
Decision-making is a complex cognitive process which consists of choosing one option among several alternatives. In humans, this process is featured in the Iowa gambling task (IGT), a decision-making task that mimics real life situations by reproducing uncertain conditions based on probabilistic rewards or penalties (see Background). Several authors wanted to adapt the IGT in rodents with subtle differences in protocols that match various aspects of the human task. Here we propose, for the first time in mice, a protocol that contains the most important characteristics of the IGT: 4 different options, choices based on 4 ambiguous outcomes with immediate and long term rewards, a total of 100 trials, no learning of the contingency before the task, and presence of both a certain reward and a probable penalty. During this task, mice have to choose between options more or less advantageous in the short and long term by developing a decision-making strategy that differs between individuals. Therefore, the strength of this protocol is that it is one of the first to enable the study of decision-making in a complex situation, and demonstrates inter-individual differences regarding decision-making strategies in mice.
0 Q&A 5241 Views Aug 5, 2018
Studies over several decades on the organization of the CA1 hippocampus–a particularly favorable model for learning, memory and certain forms of cognition–have shown that the synaptic network in this brain region is plastic (Fortin et al., 2012). Recent evidence suggests that a number of environmental and endogenous stimuli may have a substantial effect on hippocampus-dependent cognitive function, implying enhanced synaptic plasticity in this brain region. Stimuli (e.g., food restriction, enriched environment, social interaction, gene-loss [knock-out animals], etc.) can trigger structural and functional plasticity (e.g., spine formation, increased expression of neurotrophic factors, synaptic function and neurogenesis) in the hippocampus (Stewart et al., 1989; Andrade et al., 2002; Babits et al., 2016). Using quantitative electron microscopy, we can study the synaptic neuropil of CA1 hippocampus in rodents during short- or long-term treatments and/or stimuli. Within the scope of this electron microscopic methodological construct, the density of various synaptic connections, the morphology and internal structure of excitatory spine synapses (e.g., the mean length and width of postsynaptic densities) can be quantified. Such quantitative ultrastructural measurement using high-resolution electron-microscopy may be applied to observe structural manifestations of synaptic plasticity in rodent brain tissue. The presented ultrastructural protocol may empower researchers to reveal details and synaptic changes which may not be obvious using only light microscopy. Ultrastructural data may provide substantial advances in our understanding of the changes in hippocampal synaptic architecture under different conditions.
0 Q&A 5375 Views Feb 20, 2018
This protocol describes a method for registration of in vivo cortical retinotopic map with cytochrome c oxidase (CO) labeled architectonic maps of the same mouse brain through the alignment of vascular fiducials. By recording surface blood vessel pattern and sequential alignment at each step, this method overcomes the challenge imposed by tissue distortion during perfusion, mounting, sectioning and histology procedures. This method can also be generalized to register and align other types of in vivo functional maps like ocular dominance map and spatial/temporal frequency tuning map with various anatomical maps of mouse cortex.

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