Note to self

2 11 2014

This is the sort of note I often find in my office, written in my own handwriting and yet somehow mysterious. IMG_1356

In this case, this one was written after a series of meetings with Mike, in which we critically looked at how his experiment was going. The large original cohort of mice was given two types of enrichment (one of two types of wheel, or various ‘comforts’: soft items to sleep in or make bigger nests out of), in a neat 2 x 2 design which aimed to manipulate activity levels and affective state independently. Ten months in, we can see this hasn’t entirely worked. The two types of wheel are great: one is both preferred when mice have a choice, and used more even when they don’t (and the non-wheel mice were given fixed ones  to ensure they’re the perfect control groups). But while the ‘comfort’ mice are less stereotypic, this is probably because they’re less active; they’re very clearly no less anxious, which was not what we expected.

So, it was time to rethink what we can do well and what we can’t given that our basic assumptions about comforts have not been met. Our new plans are to focus on the motivational, health and welfare benefits of the wheels. This would involve killing all ‘comforts’ animals before Christmas, to compare those differing in wheel access. And then the question is, should I harvest their brains to look for effects on hippocampal neurogenesis?