The modular operant wall can be integrated into the PhenoMaster home cage permitting fully automated operant conditioning experiments without the additional stress of transferring the animal to a separate test cage. Leaving the animal in the home cage has many advantages: it allows long-term experiments with more trials per animal, performance monitoring across light/dark phases, it leads to faster habituation and learning than in the conventional Skinner Box, it reduces the work-load, and saves laboratory space, etc.
Different hardware modules such as levers, nose poke units, pellet or liquid dispensers can be integrated and combined to meet the requirements of individual operant behavioral tasks. Interactive operations with other home cage modules, such as the Food Access Control Module (for automated food deprivation as a prerequisite for pellet rewarding operant procedures) or the operant Activity Wheel Module allow enormous flexibility.
Cansell et al., Molecular Psychiatry [Epub ahead of print], 2014
Dietary triglycerides act on mesolimbic structures to regulate the rewarding and motivational aspects of feeding.
The group of Serge Luquet (PhD) in Paris used fully automated operant walls integrated into 12 PhenoMaster home cages to assess motivational aspects of feeding behavior employing a progressive ratio schedule. PhenoMaster home cages were additionally equipped for simultaneous monitoring of feeding & drinking behavior and locomotor activity. A swivel port allowed compound infusion in freely moving animals.
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