Avoidance learning

avoidance-learningAutomatic evaluation of avoidance behaviour

Harm avoidance is relevant to the symptomatology of various psychiatric disease. The avoidance learning test is a three-day automated home-cage approach to measure avoidance learning in a high-throughput fashion1. It makes use of the tendency of mice to develop a preference for one of the two entrances of the shelter compartment provided in the cage, which is measured during the day preceding this task. During the two conditioning days, every entrance through the preferred shelter entrance is paired with illumination of the shelter, a mildly aversive stimulus to the mice. During the third day, a shift from the preferred to the non-preferred entrance of the shelter can be observed as consequence of successful avoidance learning.

Genetic background affects avoidance learning

This task was successfully used to characterize inbred strains, and to identify novel transposon mutant mice with avoidance learning deficits1.

1High-throughput phenotyping of avoidance learning in mice discriminates different genotypes and identifies a novel gene. Maroteaux, Loos et al., Genes Brain Behav. 2012; 11:772