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Motor activity (exploration) and formation of home bases in mice (C57BL/6) influenced by visual and tactile cues: modification of movement distribution, distance, location, and speed

Motor activity (exploration) and formation of home bases in mice (C57BL/6) influenced by visual and tactile cues: modification of movement distribution, distance, location, and speed

Physiology and Behavior 87(4): 805-816

The motor activity of mice in tests of "exploration" is organized. Mice establish home bases, operationally defined as places where they spend long periods of time, near physical objects and nesting material from which they make excursions. This organization raises the question of the extent to which mouse motoric activity is modulated by innate predispositions versus environmental influences. Here the influence of contextual cues (visual and tactile) on the motor activity of C57BL/6 mice was examined: (1) on an open field that had no walls, a partial wall, or a complete wall, (2) in the presence of distinct visual cues, room cues, or in the absence of visual cues (infrared light), and (3) in the presence of configurations of visual and tactile cues. Mice were generally less active in the presence of salient cues and formed home bases near those cues. In addition, movement speed, path distribution, and the number and length of stops were modulated by contextual cues. With repeated tests, mice favored tactile cues over visual cues as their home base locations. Although responses to cues were robust over test days, conditioning to context was generally weak. That the exploratory behavior of mice is affected by experience and context provides insights into performance variability and may prove useful in investigating the genetic and neural influences on mouse behavior.

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Accession: 012329268

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PMID: 16530235

DOI: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2006.01.026

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