The Habituation/Cross-Habituation Test Revisited: Guidance from Sniffing and Video Tracking

Neural Plast. 2016;2016:9131284. doi: 10.1155/2016/9131284. Epub 2016 Jul 19.

Abstract

The habituation/cross-habituation test (HaXha) is a spontaneous odor discrimination task that has been used for many decades to evaluate olfactory function in animals. Animals are presented repeatedly with the same odorant after which a new odorant is introduced. The time the animal explores the odor object is measured. An animal is considered to cross-habituate during the novel stimulus trial when the exploration time is higher than the prior trial and indicates the degree of olfactory patency. On the other hand, habituation across the repeated trials involves decreased exploration time and is related to memory patency, especially at long intervals. Classically exploration is timed using a stopwatch when the animal is within 2 cm of the object and aimed toward it. These criteria are intuitive, but it is unclear how they relate to olfactory exploration, that is, sniffing. We used video tracking combined with plethysmography to improve accuracy, avoid observer bias, and propose more robust criteria for exploratory scoring when sniff measures are not available. We also demonstrate that sniff rate combined with proximity is the most direct measure of odorant exploration and provide a robust and sensitive criterion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Exploratory Behavior / physiology*
  • Female
  • Habituation, Psychophysiologic / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, 129 Strain
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Odorants*
  • Smell / physiology*
  • Video Recording / methods*