Porsolt tests going well (at least for the humans)

30 01 2014

Carole and her excellent assistants, Laura Harper and neuroscience undergraduate Kathryn Reynolds, started Porsolt tests on the mice yesterday (managing to test 18 whole cages): another way to see if our non-enriched animals show depression-like changes akin to learned helplessness. Here is the room ready and waiting. In the background are the water baths, where the mice are placed for a few minutes to see how long they take to stop trying to escape and instead float passively. The temperature of the room is ramped right up so that the mice can dry off quickly after their enforced swims (the team — wearing skimpy summer clothes under their lab coats to cope with the tropical heat — give all the mice Cheerios afterwards too, even non-enriched mice who we usually do not treat, since there is no doubt that this test is stressful for them). The sucrose consumption tests are over now, and showed that the non-enriched mice are not anhedonic: so, another cool hypothesis bites the dust. The question is now, will the Porsolt tests likewise suggest they are not depressed? And Laura and Kathryn’s behavioural data show that the time-budgets of these deprived animals are, compared to enriched mice, dominated by stereotypies and a sort of pointless standing still doing nothing … so if they’re not depressed, then what are they?

Porsolt tests going well (at least for the humans)