Emotional Learning & Memory
Passive Avoidance is a fear-motivated associative learning task similar to Fear Conditioning, but more complex. The animal has to suppress a motor response to avoid exposure to a dark compartment that has been previously coupled with an inescapable foot shock (inhibitory avoidance). This dark area is normally preferred over a brightly illuminated area. Unlike active avoidance tests, passive avoidance tests do not use an explicit Conditioned Stimulus (CS). Instead, the training context serves as CS. In the retention test the latency to enter the dark side, as well as total time and entries in the dark side, are an index of memory performance.
The Passive Avoidance module of the Multi Conditioning System “2-compartment paradigms” software requires a special 2-compartment Light-Dark arena that features an automated door to restrict the animal in the dark compartment in the training session after it has left the bright compartment. 3 arena sizes are available – an increase in size allows a more detailed analysis of exploratory behavior what is especially important when studying baseline behavior.
Adjust the aversiveness of the bright side with light intensities up to 1000 Lux, adjust the shock intensity in steps as small as 0.025mA (even small changes in shock intensity can markedly affect learning performance) and take advantage of the strictly controlled environment of the Multi Conditioning housing that prevents external influences from interfering with animal behavior – thus increasing the validity of acquired data.
Due to the 3D animal detection in the Multi Conditioning System, an in-depth analysis of passive avoidance performance is possible that comprises many more measures as compared to other systems that rely on simple transfer detection only. They may be particularly useful to discriminate different behavioral strategies impacting performance differences between strains.
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