Behavioral Assessment of Hearing in Mice—Conditioned Suppression

Henry E. Heffner1, Gimseong Koay1, Rickye S. Heffner1

1 University of Toledo, Toledo, OH
Publication Name:  Current Protocols in Neuroscience
Unit Number:  Unit 8.21D
DOI:  10.1002/0471142301.ns0821ds34
Online Posting Date:  February, 2006
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Abstract

The method of conditioned suppression described in this unit involves training a thirsty mouse to make steady contact with a waterspout in order to receive a slow, but steady trickle of water and then pairing a sound with mild electric shock delivered through the spout. The mouse quickly learns to avoid the shock by breaking contact with the spout whenever it detects the sound. This suppression of drinking is then used to indicate that the animal detected the sound. Because it is a cognitively simple procedure, conditioned suppression can be used to determine the ability of brain‚Äźdamaged and genetically altered as well as normal animals to detect and discriminate sounds.

Keywords: audition; hearing; detection; discrimination; sound localization; mice

     
 
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Table of Contents

  • Commentary
  • Literature Cited
  • Figures
  • Tables
     
 
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Materials

Basic Protocol 1:

  Materials
  • Mice
  • Fruit juice (e.g., cantaloupe/pear juice) or water
  • Dry mouse food
  • Sound‐transparent test cage with waterspout
  • Sound‐proof room
  • Loudspeakers for transducing pure tones from 1 to 100 kHz (e.g., a tweeter, available from Panasonic, for frequencies of 4 kHz and higher; a 15‐in. woofer, available from Pioneer, mounted in a rattle‐free enclosure for lower frequencies)
  • Television camera and monitor
  • Electronic lick circuit or touch switch (for electronic diagrams of lick circuits, see Weijnen and Mendelson, )
  • Syringe pump (capable of dispensing at 5 to 20 ml/hr and clear plastic tubing, e.g., 1/ 4‐in. or 6.4‐mm i.d., to connect the syringe to the waterspout; e.g., model NE‐1000, New Era Pump Systems)
  • Sound‐attenuating box, optional
  • Computer for control of stimuli delivery, measurement of behavioral reponse and calculation of performance score
  • Shock generator and mechanical relays for switching the shock (e.g., shock generator can be a high‐voltage transformer, such as those found in inexpensive AC fence chargers, e.g., the Red Snap'r model 33B, plugged into a continuously variable transformer to control the voltage, e.g., model 171, Staco), shock level ≤1.25 mA
  • Tone generator covering the range from 1 to 100 kHz (e.g., model SR 770, Stanford Research Systems)
  • Rise‐fall gate (e.g., model S84‐04, Coulbourn)
  • Attenuator (e.g., model S85‐08, Coulbourn)
  • Variable audio bandpass filter (e.g., model 3202, Krohn‐Hite), optional
  • Audio amplifier (e.g., model D‐75, Crown)
  • Oscilloscope for monitoring the electrical signal (e.g., model TDS 210, Tektronix)
  • Sound‐measuring microphone, preamplifier and/or amplifier covering the range from 1 to 100 kHz (e.g., conditioning amplifier model 2690, preamplifier model 2669, microphone adapter model UA0035, and 1/ 4‐in. microphone model 4939, all available from Brµel & Kjaer)
  • Microphone calibrator (e.g., sound level calibrator model 4231, Brµel & Kjaer)
  • Spectrum analyzer covering the range from 1 to 100 kHz (e.g., model SR 770, Stanford Research Systems)
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Figures

Videos

Literature Cited

   Bronson, F.H. 1984. The adaptability of the house mouse. Sci. Am. 250:116‐125.
   Green, D.M. 1995. Maximum‐likelihood procedures and the inattentive observer. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 97:3749‐3760.
   Harrington, I.A., Heffner, R.S., and Heffner, H.E. 2001. An investigation of sensory deficits underlying the aphasia‐like behavior of macaques with auditory cortex lesions. NeuroReport 12:1217‐1221.
   Heffner, H.E. and Harrington, I.A. 2002. Tinnitus in hamsters following exposure to loud sound. Hear. Res. 170:83‐95.
   Heffner, H.E. and Heffner, R.S. 1995. Conditioned avoidance. In Methods in Comparative Psychoacoustics (G.M. Klump, R.J. Dooling, R.R. Fay, and W.C. Stebbins, eds.) pp. 79‐93. Birkhauser Verlag, Basel, Switzerland.
   Heffner, H.E. and Heffner, R.S. 1998. Hearing. In The Encyclopedia of Comparative Psychology (G. Greenberg and M. Haraway, eds.) pp. 290‐303. Garland, New York.
   Heffner, H.E., and Heffner, R.S. 2001. Behavioral assessment of hearing in mice. In The Auditory Biology of the Laboratory Mouse: From Behavior to Molecular Biology (J. Willott, ed.) pp. 19‐29. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Fla.
   Heffner, H.E. and Heffner, R.S. 2003. Audition. In Handbook of Research Methods in Experimental Psychology (S. Davis, ed.) pp. 413‐340. Blackwell, Boston.
   Heffner, R.S., Koay, G., and Heffner, H.E. 2001. Sound‐localization acuity changes with age in C57BL/6J mice. In The Auditory Biology of the Laboratory Mouse: From behavior to molecular biology (J. Willott, ed) pp. 31‐35. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Fla.
   Jackson, L.L., Heffner, R.S., and Heffner, H.E. 1999. Free‐field audiogram of the Japanese macaque (Macaca fuscata). J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 106:3017‐3023.
   Koay, G., Heffner, R.S., and Heffner, H.E. 2002. Behavioral audiograms of homozygous medJ mutant mice with sodium channel deficiency and unaffected controls. Hear. Res. 171:111‐118.
   Schleidt, W.M. and Kickert‐Magg, M. 1979. Hearing thresholds of albino house mouse between 1 and 80 kHz by shuttle box training. J. Aud. Res. 19:37‐40.
   Siegel, S. 1956. Nonparametric Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences. McGraw‐Hill, New York.
   Sidman, M., Ray, B.A., Sidman, R.L., and Klinger, J.M. 1966. Hearing and vision in neurological mutant mice: A method for their evaluation. Exp. Neurol. 16:377‐402.
   Weijnen, J.A.W.M. and Mendelson, J. (Eds.) 1977. Drinking Behavior. Plenum Press, New York.
Key References
   Heffner, H. and Heffner, R.S. 1995. See above.
  A detailed description of the basic conditioned suppression/avoidance method.
   Heffner, H.E. and Heffner, R.S. 1998. See above.
  A review of hearing in animals.
   Heffner, H.E. and Heffner, R.S. 2001. See above.
  A comparison of behavioral procedures for testing hearing in mice.
   Heffner, H.E. and Heffner, R.S. 2003. See above.
  A review of hearing in mammals.
   Heffner et al., 2001. See above.
  An example of using conditioned suppression to determine sound‐localization acuity in mice.
   Koay et al., 2002. See above.
  Audiograms of normal and mutant mice obtained with the method of conditioned suppression.
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