Mouse models have become a popular and successful approach to elucidating the physiological and pathological roles of individual genes and are truly crucial to accelerate the development of effective treatments and cures for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, ALS, MS and other neurodegenerative diseases.
The increasing demand for mouse behavioral studies within the neuroscience community has led the Harvard NeuroDiscovery Center to develop a major new, state of the art mouse behavior laboratory, located in the Longwood medical area and carefully designed to meet the exacting standards required for this type of work.
The NeuroBehavior Laboratory (NBL) will provide the Harvard community and other investigators access to a broad range of reliable behavioral/cognitive tests necessary to analyze and interpret the impact of a genetic, surgical or pharmacologic manipulation on specific behaviors.
"This particular "CLAMS" System is a 12 chamber system housed inside an incubator with precise temperature control. Each incubator can house 12 mouse cages. The advantage to running experiment in an incubator such as this is it affords the ability to research metabolic performance at temperatures above or below normal ambient room temperatures. Furthermore, with its precise thermostatic control, the incubator can maintain a thermo-neutral temperature to ensure more stable RER measurements."
The lab owns 16 of these chambers.
"The Pathfinder Maze System provides an amazing advancement in controlled spatial learning and memory devices. This maze system allows for the same control of visual and auditory cues as the Rat Pathfinder Mazes and a unique fixed goal box design to eliminate olfactory cues when the maze is rotated between trials.
The small electric servo motor used in this system may be connected to the bridges for a completely open maze or to the doors of the optional arena as shown in the photo. See Model 89217 for the clear arena. Arenas are also available in red tint and smoked material. The arena can be used with open runways and goal boxes as shown or the runways and goal boxes can be enclosed with clear, red tinted or smoked wall kits.
The electrical switch box used to control the bridges or doors features individual switches for each runway plus a master switch that lets you pre-load the door / bridge positions and then activate all motors simultaneously."
The lab owns 2 of these mazes.
Custom made by Plastic Crafts. The lab owns 12 of these.
"The Grip Strength Meter measures forelimb and 4-limb grip-strength in mice. Similar to the device for rat, but ten times as sensitive, the resolution of the Grip Strength Meter for Mice is to 0.1 gram. The effects drugs, toxins, muscle relaxants, disease, ageing or neural damage on muscle strength may be assessed."
The lab owns 16 of these chambers.
"The 'Rota-Rod' technique is essential in screening drugs which have side effects on motor coordination.
Ugo Basile Rota-Rods, the original Rota-Rods, have been updated after years of consulting leading researchers in behavior and pharmacology.
The new Rota-Rod for Mice has five lanes, and operates in constant speed, accelerating, and reverse / rocking modes! The tiltable digital panel shows accrued rotations and time on the rod."
Operant Conditioning Behavior chamber. Lab owns 32 of these.
"The startle reflex system allows investigators to set-up programs for performing both prepulse inhibition of startle (PPI), and fear-potentiated startle (FPS) experiments, referred to as 'prepulse startle' and 'potentiated startle' respectively."
The lab owns 8 of these chambers.
Custom made by Harvard Shop.
"The Morris Water Maze paradigm, in which the animal has to learn the position of a submerged platform in a pool of water, has become a popular tool for testing learning & memory in small rodents. The performance of the animal is sensitive to manipulations in the hippocampus.
The TSE water maze package for VideoMot2 includes a pool with platform, low-light sensitive CCD camera & lens, camera connecting kit, DVD recorder, PC or notebook with built-in control interface, remote control and all connecting cables as well as the video tracking software VideoMot2.
Quadrants and target position can be easily drawn over the image of the pool using the software. When the animal is released in the pool tracking is started using a remote control. Data acquisition is stopped automatically when the animal has reached the target or after it has stayed there for a user-defined time or after a set total duration has elapsed. Latency to reach the target is the relevant parameter here. For probe trials the platform is removed and the percentage time spent in the target quadrant is compared to the time spent in other quadrants. All standard water maze evaluation parameters are provided by the VideoMot2 software module and can be easily exported for further statistical evaluation."
Custom made by Plastic Crafts. The lab owns 10 of these Y-mazes
Training will be provided by the laboratory staff to students, post-docs, and PIs interested in learning about behavioral science and those who would like to run their own studies within the laboratory. Training is mandatory for first time users, whether they already have behavioral expertise or not.
"The battery of behavioral tests available at the NBL allows a comprehensive assessment of neurological functions (motor coordination/agility, strength, exploratory activity, metabolic activity), emotional responses (anxiety, depression, startle sensitivity, and frustration), sensori-motor gating (pre-pulse inhibition) and cognitive functions (attention, working memory, recognition memory, spatial learning and memory, procedural learning and memory, extinction learning, reversal learning, contextual fear memory)."
"The NBL is a fee-for-use / fee-for-service facility, with fees that vary depending on the type of activity (training, consultation, instrument use, or full service provided by laboratory staff) and the complexity and duration of the project. Although priority is given to HNDC members investigating neurodegenerative diseases and the CNS, the facility is also available to any academic investigators within the Harvard community and the greater-Boston research community, and under special arrangements, to the commercial sector.
Before using the facility, investigators are required to submit a user form including a brief research summary of their proposed project to the NBL director. Users will be able to access an online calendar to check instrument availability prior to booking time. All booking will be done directly with the laboratory staff.
First time users must be trained by the NBL staff and receive approval from their respective IACUCs before they can be granted access to the NBL. Users who would like to develop/implement new animal procedures within the lab need to work with the laboratory director and their respective IACUC to create a new animal protocol or submit an amendment to the existing animal protocol. Transfer of animals to the facility will ideally occur 2 weeks prior to conducting behavioral studies (providing an important acclimation period). To minimize the risks of infection within the facility, we will only accept mice from relatively safe sources such as established barrier facilities or trusted suppliers. Otherwise mice will be temporarily housed nearby in a quarantine facility. Animals entering the NBL will not be transferred back to barrier facilities."
"Very often it is necessary to either perform surgery prior to behavioral testing or collect tissue samples after completion of a behavioral study. For that purpose, a surgery / necropsy room is available within the lab; it is equipped for stereotaxic surgery (lesions, icv cannulations, intrathecal injections, etc.) and for necropsy / tissue collection (plasma/blood, CSF, brain tissues, other tissues)."