A motorized pellet dispenser to deliver high intensity training of the single pellet reaching and grasping task in rats

Behav Brain Res. 2018 Jan 15;336:67-76. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2017.08.033. Epub 2017 Aug 25.


The single pellet reaching and grasping (SPG) task is widely used to study forelimb motor performance in rodents and to provide rehabilitation after neurological disorders. Nonetheless, the time necessary to train animals precludes its use in settings where high-intensity training is required. In the current study, we developed a novel high-intensity training protocol for the SPG task based on a motorized pellet dispenser and a dual-window enclosure. We tested the protocol in naive adult rats and found 1) an increase in the intensity of training without increasing the task time and without affecting the overall performance of the animals, 2) a reduction in the variability within and between experiments in comparison to manual SPG training, and 3) a reduction in the time required to conduct experiments. In summary, we developed and tested a novel protocol for SPG training that provides higher-intensity training while reducing the variability of results observed with other protocols.

Keywords: Forelimb; High-intensity; Motor task; Single pellet grasping; Training.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed
  • Animals
  • Conditioning, Operant
  • Female
  • Food Dispensers, Automatic / instrumentation*
  • Hand Strength
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal / methods*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Lew
  • Reproducibility of Results