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Animal Behavior Core

About us

The mission of the Animal Behavior Core (ABC) is to provide the tools and assistance to identify and monitor behavior in rodents. Assessment of animal behavior and phenotype is imperative to the understanding of animal models of disease and the potential impact of therapeutic agents. The ABC supports both basic and translational research by:

  • Providing assistance with project development
  • Providing investigators with the tools and technical assistance to identify and monitor behavior in rats and mice
  • Training investigators in state-of-the art techniques for the analysis of animal behaviors
  • Assisting with the interpretation and presentation of data and results relating to animal behaviors

The ABC conducts state-of-the-art rodent behavioral testing for investigators at UMMC and other institutions on a fee-for-service basis. The core facility is equipped to perform comprehensive behavioral tests that thoroughly characterize the overall sensory and motor function of rats and mice, as well as specific behaviors of interest to investigators (learning and memory, operant behavior, place/fear conditioning, pain/analgesia, depression and anxiety-related behaviors). The core is equipped to assist in all aspects of rodent behavioral testing including design and execution of behavioral tasks as well as data analysis and interpretation.


Behavioral and neurological phenotyping including neurological assessment:

  • Postnatal development
  • Seizure activity
  • Species-specific behavior (maternal, juvenile, social)
  • Activity (general activity, balance, coordination)

Testing relevant to affective disorders and antidepressant activity:

  • Forced swim, tail suspension tests
  • Chronic social defeat
  • Chronic mild/unpredictable stress
  • Learned helplessness

Testing relevant to fear and anxiety and anxiolytic activity:

  • Plus maze
  • Zero maze
  • Marble burying

Learning and memory:

  • Active/passive avoidance
  • Spontaneous alternation
  • Water maze
  • Barnes maze
  • Radial arm maze (and simpler mazes)
  • Novel object recognition

Additional services:

  • Assistance with specialized/custom testing as needed
  • Assessing ultrasonic vocalization for pain, anxiety, stress and sexual and social behaviors
  • Sleep and circadian rhythm monitoring and/or disruption
  • Respiratory depression using whole body plethysmography

Behavioral testing facilities are equipped with:

  • Noldus Ethovision movement tracking system (two) with overhead video cameras
  • Noldus Observer (complex analysis of individual and social behaviors from video)
  • Barnes Maze, Radial Arm Maze, Water Maze, Y maze, T maze
  • Elevated Zero Maze, Plus Maze, Light/dark box emergence
  • Med Associates operant chambers for mice (six) and rats (twelve with iv drug self-administration option)
  • DSI whole body plethysmography system (four chambers) with the capability to remotely administer compounds iv within the session
  • Mini-Mitter to assess home-cage activity (seven)
  • Metris Sonotrack to analyze ultrasonic vocalizations (four chambers)
  • Med Associates Active/Passive Avoidance chambers (four)
  • Columbus Automex IR beam-activated activity chambers (twelve)
  • Focused beam nociception apparatus
  • Porsolt forced swim set up
  • Tail suspension set-up 
  • Rotarod

Contact us

  • Daniela Rüedi-Bettschen, PhD - Core Director 
    Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, UMMC
    (601) 984-5890

External collaboration

We welcome collaboration with external users. Contact us by phone or email.