Spontaneous tasks of object exploration are becoming common in testing memory in rodents. However, these tasks require large numbers of animals to provide enough data to interpret the results appropriately. In addition, these tasks are not normally suited to testing complex forms of memory, meaning studies on the neurobiology of these more complex forms of memory (such as episodic memory – the memory of past events in one's life) continue to be studied in primates. The project aims to develop a task in rodents that both tests forms of complex memory in spontaneous tasks in rodents (replacing the need for primates in these studies) and refines the procedures for these tasks such that fewer animals can be used to provide the same (or greater) interpretive power with less handling, leading to lower levels of stress in the animals. In addition, the development of a precisely controlled task in animals will allow the student to develop non-animal alternatives to understanding the neural basis of episodic memory in humans.
NC3Rs blog: Taking memory research to parliament
Ameen-Ali KE, Easton A, and Eacott MJ (2015). Moving beyond standard procedures to assess spontaneous recognition memory. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. 53: 37-51 doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2015.03.013
Ameen-Ali KE, Eacott MJ, and Easton A (2012). A new behavioural apparatus to reduce animal numbers in multiple types of spontaneous object recognition paradigm in rats. J. Neurosci. Methods. 211: 66-76 doi:10.1016/j.jneumeth.2012.08.006