Automated Operant Assessments of Huntington's Disease Mouse Models

Methods Mol Biol. 2018:1780:143-162. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-7825-0_8.


Huntington's disease (HD) presents clinically with a triad of motor, cognitive, and psychiatric symptoms. Cognitive symptoms often occur early within the disease progression, prior to the onset of motor symptoms, and they are significantly burdensome to people who are affected by HD. In order to determine the suitability of mouse models of HD in recapitulating the human condition, these models must be behaviorally tested and characterized. Operant behavioral testing offers an automated and objective method of behaviorally profiling motor, cognitive, and psychiatric dysfunction in HD mice. Furthermore, operant testing can also be employed to determine any behavioral changes observed after any associated interventions or experimental therapeutics. We here present an overview of the most commonly used operant behavioral tests to dissociate motor, cognitive, and psychiatric aspects of mouse models of HD.

Keywords: 9-Hole box; Behavior; Cognition; Huntington’s disease; Knockin; Mouse model; Operant; Skinner box; Touch screen; Transgenic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior Observation Techniques / instrumentation
  • Behavior Observation Techniques / methods*
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Conditioning, Operant*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Huntingtin Protein / genetics
  • Huntington Disease / diagnosis*
  • Huntington Disease / genetics
  • Huntington Disease / psychology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Motor Activity / physiology*


  • Htt protein, mouse
  • Huntingtin Protein