New automated procedure to assess context recognition memory in mice


  • Reiss David
  • Walter Ondine
  • Bourgoin Lucie
  • Kieffer Brigitte
  • Ouagazzal Abdel-Mouttalib


  • Recognition memory
  • Nose-poke units
  • Spatial context
  • Consolidation
  • Reconsolidation
  • Mice

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Rationale and objectives
Recognition memory is an important aspect of human declarative memory and is one of the routine memory abilities altered in patients with amnestic syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease. In rodents, recognition memory has been most widely assessed using the novel object preference paradigm, which exploits the spontaneous preference that animals display for novel objects. Here, we used nose-poke units instead of objects to design a simple automated method for assessing context recognition memory in mice.

In the acquisition trial, mice are exposed for the first time to an operant chamber with one blinking nose-poke unit. In the choice session, a novel nonblinking nose-poke unit is inserted into an empty spatial location and the number of nose poking dedicated to each set of nose-poke unit is used as an index of recognition memory.

We report that recognition performance varies as a function of the length of the acquisition period and the retention delay and is sensitive to conventional amnestic treatments. By manipulating the features of the operant chamber during a brief retrieval episode (3-min long), we further demonstrate that reconsolidation of the original contextual memory depends on the magnitude and the type of environmental changes introduced into the familiar spatial environment.

These results show that the nose-poke recognition task provides a rapid and reliable way for assessing context recognition memory in mice and offers new possibilities for the deciphering of the brain mechanisms governing the reconsolidation process.

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