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b-neuro Services

The b-neuro laboratory

Behavioural Models of Cognition

At b-neuro, cognitive deficits are induced either by task manipulation (i.e. time delay), by a sub-chronic treatment regimen with the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonist phencyclidine (PCP), or through the maternal immune activation neurodevelopmental model (poly I:C).


Sub-chronic treatment with PCP in adult rats produces behavioural
(particularly cognitive) and neurobiological changes of relevance to the
pathophysiology and symptomatology of schizophrenia (Neill et al, 2010; Reynolds and Neill, 2016; Cadinu et al, 2017).

The scPCP-impairment model uses adult female Lister Hooded rats sub-chronically treated with PCP (2 mg/kg i.p., twice daily for 7 days, followed by 7 days washout).

Polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid (Poly I:C)

Pregnant female Wistar rats are injected intraperitoneally (i.p) with poly I:C (10 mg/kg) or saline (0.9% NaCl) at gestational day (GD) 15, (10-weeks old). The offspring are tested at adulthood.

Rats are subsequently tested in one of several tests for cognition or social behaviour and 2 tests of affect. Biomarker studies are then conducted on brain tissue. Drug candidates can be evaluated for efficacy on all or one of these two outcomes. Time delay and task manipulation-induced cognitive deficits are also provided in some of our tests.

We are experienced in all routes of drug administration. Candidate drugs can be given systemically, either acutely or sub-chronically, via mini-pumps, food or drinking water. Systemic routes are i.p., s.c., and p.o. b-neuro will prepare blood and brain samples for subsequent pharmacokinetic analysis.

Cognitive tests

  • Reversal learning for problem solving and reasoning
  • Attentional set shifting for executive function
  • 5-choice continuous performance task for attention and vigilance
  • Novel object recognition for visual recognition memory
  • Novel object recognition following a 6 hour ITI (natural forgetting)
  • Behavioural tasks with electrophysiological recording of gamma oscillations from the prefrontal cortex
  • Optimistic and affective bias tests for measuring affect
  • The social behaviour test for negative symptoms

Other Tests

  • D-amphetamine induced hyperactivity to detect antipsychotic activity of drugs
  • Sub-chronic PCP induced behavioural sensitization to detect antipsychotic activity of drugs

Under Development

  • The continuous What Where Which task for episodic memory is currently being validated. A robust deficit is observed following a 1 hour inter-trial interval.
  • Touchscreen tests for cognition
  • Odour span task for non-spatial working memory
  • Spatial recognition test for topographical memory
  • In vivo electrophysiology in animals performing cognitive tasks

Biomarker Tests

  • Immunohistochemistry and WES measurements of parvalbumin in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus
  • In vivo electrophysiology in anaesthetised animals
  • qPCR for gene expression

Other Services

b-neuro also provides:

  • expert consultation
  • representation at scientific meetings
  • training for technical personnel
  • publication of key findings with collaborators