Automated dissection of permanent effects of hippocampal or prefrontal lesions on performance at spatial, working memory and circadian timing tasks of C57BL/6 mice in IntelliCage

Behav Brain Res. 2018 Oct 15;352:8-22. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2017.08.048. Epub 2017 Sep 18.


To evaluate permanent effects of hippocampal and prefrontal cortex lesion on spatial tasks, lesioned and sham-operated female C57BL/6 mice were exposed to a series of conditioning schemes in IntelliCages housing 8-10 transponder-tagged mice from each treatment group. Sequential testing started at 51-172days after bilateral lesions and lasted for 154 and 218days in two batches of mice, respectively. Spontaneous undisturbed behavioral patterns clearly separated the three groups, hippocampals being characterized by more erratic hyperactivity, and strongly impaired circadian synchronization ability. Hippocampal lesions led to deficits in spatial passive avoidance, as well as in spatial reference and working memory tasks. Impairment was minimal in rewarded preference/reversal schemes, but prominent if behavioral responses required precise circadian timing or included punishment of wrong spatial choices. No differences between sham-operated and prefrontally lesioned subjects in conditioning success were discernible. These results corroborate the view that hippocampal dysfunction spares simple spatial learning tasks but impairs the ability to cope with conflicting task-inherent spatial, temporal or emotional cues. Methodologically, the results show that automated testing and data analysis of socially kept mice is a powerful, efficient and animal-friendly tool for dissecting complex features and behavioral profiles of hippocampal dysfunction characterizing many transgenic or pharmacological mouse models.

Keywords: Behavior; Circadian; Hippocampus; Home cage; IntelliCage; Prefrontal cortex; Spatial memory; Working memory.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Automation, Laboratory / instrumentation*
  • Automation, Laboratory / methods
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology
  • Conditioning, Psychological / physiology
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology*
  • Housing, Animal*
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • N-Methylaspartate
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Random Allocation
  • Spatial Memory / physiology*


  • N-Methylaspartate