Social Recognition Assay in the Rat

Joanne R. Mathiasen1, Amy DiCamillo1

1 Cephalon, West Chester, Pennsylvania
Publication Name:  Current Protocols in Neuroscience
Unit Number:  Unit 8.5I
DOI:  10.1002/0471142301.ns0805is53
Online Posting Date:  October, 2010
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Neuropsychiatric disorders encompass a broad patient population in a variety of disease states across all age groups and are often accompanied by deficits in short‐term/working memory. However, most preclinical models that allow for an assessment of cognitive enhancement do not provide robust behavioral readouts with a level of throughput sufficient to support modern drug discovery efforts. The rat social recognition assay presented in this unit is one exception that has been increasingly employed to test new chemical entities for enhancing cognitive activity. The test is simple in design and takes advantage of the spontaneous behavior of rats to investigate conspecifics. The protocol in this unit is designed to evaluate the effects of a test substance on the short‐term/working memory of adult male rats employing 30‐min or 2‐hr pretreatment times. Curr. Protoc. Neurosci. 53:8.51.1‐8.51.15. © 2010 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Keywords: memory; cognition; social recognition

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Basic Protocol 1: Evaluation of Pharmacological Effects on Social Recognition in Adult Male Rats
  • Alternate Protocol 1: Evaluation of Positive Pharmacological Effects on Social Recognition in Aged Rats
  • Reagents and Solutions
  • Commentary
  • Literature Cited
  • Figures
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Basic Protocol 1: Evaluation of Pharmacological Effects on Social Recognition in Adult Male Rats

  • Adult male Sprague Dawley rats (350 to 450 g; ∼3 months old) and juvenile male Sprague Dawley rats (75 to 130 g; ∼1 month old) (Charles River Laboratories)
  • Standard rodent diet (LabDiet 5001, PMI Nutrition International)
  • Test compounds (see reciperecipes)
  • Cages (36.8‐cm length × 30.5‐cm width × 19.1‐cm height)
  • Bedding material (Alpha Dri, Shepherd Specialty Papers)
  • Empty cages with filtered (microisolator) hardtop covers
  • Laboratory tape
  • Low‐odor permanent marker (Sharpie Magnum, fine‐point, blue or black)
  • Metric balance accurate to 1 g
  • Stopwatches with 1‐sec precision
  • 3‐ml syringes (BD Luer‐Lok) and 23‐G ¾‐in. needles (BD PrecisionGlide)
  • Luer gastric needles (18‐G × 2‐in.; Popper & Sons)

Alternate Protocol 1: Evaluation of Positive Pharmacological Effects on Social Recognition in Aged Rats

  • Male aged, adult, and juvenile rats of the same strain
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Literature Cited

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