The ‘Continual trials’ apparatus, developed with NC3Rs PhD Studentship and CRACK IT Solutions funding, is a semi-automated technology for studying spontaneous recognition tasks in rats and mice. These trials are used to assess memory, but their reliability was confounded by environmental factors, such as handling, which affect the animal’s behaviour.
With the continual trials apparatus, multiple trials can be run by a single animal in one session with no handling required between trials as the animal travels between chambers under its own motivation. The apparatus can be used for object recognition, object location and tests of episodic memory. The system has a modular set-up, enabling a bespoke unit to be built for individual research requirements. A camera monitors behaviour in the testing chamber and an accompanying video scoring app enables review of the object scoring and other behavioural parameters.
Reduction: The apparatus allows multiple trials to be run within a single session reducing the number of animals needed by 50%, to a total of eight per experiment.
Refinement: Animals do not undergo handling between or within trials, leading to more reliable behavioural measures and a significant reduction in behavioural ‘noise’ in the data.