Associative Learning Task
Fear learning is a type of associative emotional learning. In the Fear Conditioning paradigm, the animal has to associate a neutral conditional stimulus (tone or context) with an aversive unconditional stimulus (a mild electrical foot shock). In the memory test, the animal then shows a conditional response to the cue or the context – the freezing response, i.e. lack of movement except breathing. This paradigm is widely used to study cognitive dysfunctions in neurodegenerative diseases or to evaluate fear memory formation and extinction in fear & anxiety research. Several validated procedures exist to study the differential involvement of brain areas.
The Fear Conditioning software of the Multi Conditioning software package supports all procedural steps: Fear Learning, Retention, Extinction and Recall. The flexible Control File Editor allows to freely generate experimental designs for cued & contextual fear conditioning. Change the timing of all stimuli (sine sound, noise, light, foot shock) for trace & delay fear conditioning, change the stimulus quality during the session for CS-/CS+ studies and combine your experiment with the integrated TTL output signals to control external instruments such as optogenetics laser generators. All stimulus qualities are software-controlled thus guaranteeing maximum reproducibility of all test parameters. Modification of the context is easy – just select your “New Context” arena from a large variety of test arenas that differ in shape, size and colors. Use tactile inlays to change the floor texture and define background noise and light inside the housing – a strictly controlled environment. This exceptional contextual flexibility is a key feature of the Multi Conditioning System.
The movement of the animal is detected with a high temporal and spatial resolution by a dense grid of light-beam sensors. This detection is completely independent from animal position and illumination – an important advantage as compared to video-based detection systems. The extensive data analysis not only outputs freezing events (i.e. periods without movement acc. to a user-defined time threshold) – movement patterns, heat maps and several speed and activity parameters including rearing (measure of exploration) and jumping (evaluation of response to shock) complete the comprehensive analysis of the animal´s behavior.
TSE provides customized components for the integration of wired optogenetic systems, electrophysiology, or fiber photometry system. A brand-new feature is the live-freezing detection – output TTL signals during the running experiments whenever freezing occurs! Please contact us to discuss your specific requirements!
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