A Novel Assay for Higher-Order Repetitive Behavior in Mice and the C58/J Mouse Model of Autism
Mentor:Bryce Ryan, Associate Professor of Biology, University of Redlands
Mouse models of autistic like behaviors can be valuable tools for studying the cause, symptoms, and potential treatments for autism. The inbred C58/J mouse strain has previously been shown to demonstrate face validity for two core symptoms of autism, low social behavior and elevated motor stereotypies. In addition to these lower-order behaviors, humans with autism also demonstrate higher-order repetitive behaviors such as sequencing and resistance to change. In this study, we looked for evidence of higher-order repetitive behaviors in the C58/J strain using a novel object assay. This assay utilized a mouse’s natural exploratory behavior toward novel objects and was performed both in a rectangular arena and a round arena. In this assay, the C58/J strain demonstrated elevated motor stereotypies, consistent with past studies. The C58/J strain did show evidence of higher order repetitive behaviors by displaying a strong preference for a single object in the round arena assays and by repetitively sniffing the novel objects in a patterned sequence. Future testing on the C58/J strain should continue to investigate the potential presence of higher-order repetitive behavior as well as investigating the shape of the testing arena on mouse behavior.