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Behavioral assessment of mouse models of neuropathologies: old problems and novel solutions

New Content Item © https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lab_mouse_mg_3263.jpgGuest Editors: Susanna Pietropaolo (University of Bordeaux), Vootele Vöikar (University of Helsinki), and Clare Stanford (University College London) 

Submission deadline: June 1, 2022

Scope: The assessment of mouse behaviour is almost a mandatory step for most translational research on animal models of neuropathologies, either as a primary or secondary goal. Studies testing the efficacy of novel therapies or the molecular mechanisms involved in the pathologies of the central nervous system are likely to require the assessment of the behavioural signs, as well as those explicitly focusing on demonstrating the face validity of novel mouse models. As a consequence, running behavioural tests on mouse lines has become almost a routine in an increasing number of research laboratories, including those having a typical “molecular” rather than “behavioural” orientation. This is inducing an impressively rapid progression in the development of behavioural testing procedures and data analysis, so that the “traditional” approaches to mouse behavioural evaluation are undergoing an intense evolution, both at the theoretical and technical levels.

Increasing attention is now paid to the impact of factors known to affect the behavioural validity of mouse models, such as genetic background, rearing and breeding conditions, sex, and age of the tested animals. Similarly, neuroscientists seem to be increasingly aware of the critical relevance of methodological choices on the behavioural validation of a mouse model: these include the type of tests, specific procedural aspects, and approaches to behavioural analysis. Recent technological advances have added to the evolution of behavioural methods, proposing novel testing approaches to the analysis of complex behaviours such as empathy, social interaction, and communication, and trying to replace observer-based data collection by automated and machine-learning tools. Furthermore, the old problems of replicability and reliability of the behavioural data from animal models are now tentatively faced with novel technological approaches.

We invite investigators to contribute original research as well as review articles underlining the problems related to the behavioural validation of animal models of neuropathologies as well as their possible solutions. Animal models of all major disorders can be included, based on genetic, environmental or pharmacological manipulations. The required characteristic of all manuscripts will consist of a deep behavioural research focus, including the identification of problems related to the behavioural validity of a given animal model and a critique of the extent to which it is analogous to the human disorder.. Proposals of methodological innovations or novel approaches to the analysis of behavioural data are also encouraged, as they would provide potential solutions to these problems.

LIST OF TOPICS:

  • Examples of critical factors in the behavioural validation of a mouse model:impact of genetic background, age/sex of the subjects and rearing conditions 
  • Limitations and critical aspects of testing procedures and data analysis on the behavioural validity of mouse models 
  • Replicability and reliability of the behavioural phenotypes: differences between laboratories and tests 
  • Novel approaches to the behavioural validation of a mouse model: novel methodologies for testing mice and analysing their behaviour
  • Strategies to enhance the translational value of the behavioural assessment of pre-clinical mouse models: promoting the interaction between basic and clinical research approaches

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