Sequential habituation to space, object and stranger is differentially modulated by glutamatergic, cholinergic and dopaminergic transmission

Jie Yeap, Barry Crouch, Gernot Riedel, Bettina Platt* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Novel object and social interaction tasks allow assessments of rodent cognition and social behavior. Here, we combined these tasks and defined unequivocal locations of interest. Our procedure, termed OF-NO-SI, comprised habituation to the open field (OF), novel object (NO) and social interaction (SI) stages. Habituation was measured within- and between-trials (10 minutes each, two per stage). Ambulation emerged as the appropriate proxy during the OF stage, but NO and SI trials were best quantified via direct exploration measures. We pharmacologically validated the paradigm using 5-month old C57BL/6J male mice, treated intraperitoneally with (1) 0.5 mg/kg scopolamine, (2) 0.05 mg/kg MK-801 and (3) 0.05 mg/kg SCH-23390 to block muscarinic (M1), NMDA, and D1 receptors, respectively, or (4) vehicle (distilled water). Activity and gross exploratory behavior were affected by all compounds cf. vehicle: scopolamine and MK-801 cohorts were hyperactive, while SCH-23390 caused hypo-locomotion throughout. Vehicle treated mice showed reliable habituation to all stages for time in interaction zone, directed exploration and number of visits. Exploration was severely impaired by scopolamine. MK-801 mostly affected within-session exploration but also increased exploration of the conspecific compared to the object. Interestingly, even though within-trial habituation was lacking in the SCH-23390 cohort, between-trial habituation was largely intact, despite reduced locomotion. Our data suggest that the OF-NO-SI task is a convenient and robust paradigm to measure habituation to different experimental settings and stimuli. It allows the dissociation of proxies related to activity and non-associative learning/memory, as revealed by distinct pharmacological treatment effects within- vs. between-trials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)652-670
Number of pages19
JournalBehavioural Pharmacology
Issue number7
Early online date7 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2020


  • cholinergic
  • dopaminergic
  • glutamatergic
  • Locomoter activity
  • object recognition
  • social recognition
  • mice


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