Novel Object Recognition in the Rat: A Facile Assay for Cognitive Function

Joanne R. Mathiasen1, Amy DiCamillo1

1 Discovery Research, Cephalon, West Chester, Pennsylvania
Publication Name:  Current Protocols in Pharmacology
Unit Number:  Unit 5.59
DOI:  10.1002/0471141755.ph0559s49
Online Posting Date:  June, 2010
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The rat novel object recognition (NOR) assay is a relatively high‐throughput, robust, and sensitive procedure for evaluating compounds for cognition‐enhancing activity. For the test, rats are given the opportunity to explore two identical objects for a predetermined period of time. After a delay, the animals are then presented with two objects to explore, one of which is the same as in the first exploration trial, the other a new object. Depending on the length of the delay between the two trials, the rats will either explore the novel object for a greater time period, indicating memory for the familiar object, or will explore the novel and familiar objects for the same amount of time, indicating a lack of recall or loss of memory for the familiar object presented during the initial trial. The protocol described in this unit can be used to evaluate the effects of a compound on the short‐term/working memory of adult male rats following a 24‐hr inter‐trial interval. Curr. Protoc. Pharmacol. 49:5.59.1‐5.59.15. © 2010 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Keywords: memory; cognition; novel object

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Basic Protocol 1: Evaluation of Pharmacological Effects on Novel Object Recognition (NOR) in Adult Male Rats
  • Reagents and Solutions
  • Commentary
  • Literature Cited
  • Figures
  • Tables
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Basic Protocol 1: Evaluation of Pharmacological Effects on Novel Object Recognition (NOR) in Adult Male Rats

  • Adult Wistar rats (200 to 250 g, ∼2 months old; Charles River Laboratories)
  • Rodent diet (e.g., LabDiet 5001, PMI Nutrition International)
  • Test compounds (see recipe)
  • Rat housing cages (36.8‐cm length × 30.5‐cm width × 19.1‐cm height)
  • Bedding material (Alpha Dri, Shepherd Specialty Papers)
  • Task lights (Electrix S202 halogen lamp, 50 W)
  • Large open test box constructed of opaque plastic or acrylic material (50‐cm length × 50‐cm width × 35‐cm height; ViewPoint Life Sciences; see Fig. )
  • Light meter (Traceable standard lux meter; Fisher Scientific, cat. no. 06‐662‐64)
  • Low‐odor permanent marker (e.g., Sharpie blue or black marker)
  • Animal balance accurate to 1 g (Ohaus CS 2000)
  • Familiar and Novel Objects (see Fig. and Critical Parameters)
  • Reusable adhesive (such as Handi‐Tak, Super Glue Corporation)
  • Stopwatches/timers with 1‐sec precision (Traceable; VWR, cat. no. 62344‐585)
  • 18‐G Luer gastric needles (if performing oral administration of dosing solution; Animal Feeding/Intubation Needles, Popper & Sons)
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Literature Cited

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