Novel object exploration in mice: not all objects are created equal

Behav Processes. 2012 Mar;89(3):232-8. doi: 10.1016/j.beproc.2011.12.004. Epub 2011 Dec 16.


Object exploration is an increasingly popular experimental paradigm in behavioral sciences. We have begun a series of studies with mice specifically looking at the parameters that influence behaviors in this test. The aim of the present study was to examine the effect of object type on performance in the object exploration test. More specifically, adult male C57BL/6J mice were trained and tested using objects that could be climbed (CLIMB) or with those that could only be touched (TOUCH). The results show that activity is affected by the presentation of objects, with object type interacting with some of these changes. C57 mice explored objects that can be climbed over significantly longer than objects that can only be touched and a more rapid habituation was observed using objects that could only be touched. Robust recognition memory was observed in both groups of mice, however mice in the CLIMB group exhibited a significantly greater discrimination index compared to mice in the TOUCH group. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that the selection of objects is of critical importance and it is recommended that special attention be given to the functional (affordant) properties of the objects to-be-used in future studies.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Attention / physiology
  • Exploratory Behavior / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*
  • Touch / physiology