Wednesday, June 22, 2016

USB cameras for tracking in Morris Water Maze and other experiments

A range of USB cameras can be used with the HVS Image video tracking and analysis software, including the HVS Image camera supplied in the accessories kit available from the company, and off-the-shelf web cams you can buy from PC stores or at low cost from eBay and Amazon.

Which camera suits you best will depend on your experimental set-up and whether you need to cater for more than one type of experiment.

If you want a versatile camera that can be used at different distances from the tracking area and for tracking area of different dimensions, the HVS Image camera is the answer. This has:
  • wide angle lens for use with Morris Water Maze, and other lenses for smaller mazes and arenas;
  • manual focus allowing you to focus at the tracking surface, so there is no issue of an auto-focus taking time to adjust when the subject enters the tracking area - it will already be in focus;
  • threaded mounting point for fixing the camera securely in place with the accompanying ceiling mount or other standard mount.
The HVS Image camera comes with a 30 foot USB boosted extension lead, lenses including a wide angle and a varifocal zoom, ceiling mount and long range wireless remote for starting trials from the pool, maze or arena.

Other cameras that can be used include the low cost Microsoft LifeCams such as the VX-800, which you can pick up for around $10, or the Logitech C920. Watch out for the following if choosing your own camera:
  • Not all web cams have a threaded mounting point, so you may need another way to hold it in place, such as duct tape;
  • Most web cams are auto-focus, so run some tests to make sure that the image is clear enough for the subject to be tracked right from the start of the trial;
  • The angle of view stated in web cam specs is usually the diagonal, so be careful to ensure you get one that will fit your tracking area into the image;
  • Most web cams don't have a wide enough angle to fit a large water maze, unless you have a high ceiling, so you may need the HVS Image camera. HVS Image are always happy to advise.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

May 2016, Some Publications using Morris Water Maze

The water maze paradigm in experimental studies of chronic cognitive disorders: Theory, protocols, analysis, and inference

M Kapadia, J Xu, B Sakic 

An instrumental step in assessing the validity of animal models of chronic cognitive disorders is to document disease-related deficits in learning/memory capacity. The water maze (WM) is a popular paradigm because of its low cost, relatively simple protocol and short procedure time. Despite being broadly accepted as a spatial learning task, inference of generalized, bona fide “cognitive” dysfunction can be challenging because task accomplishment is also reliant on non-cognitive processes. We review theoretical background, testing procedures, confounding factors, as well as approaches to data analysis and interpretation. We also describe an extended protocol that has proven useful in detecting early performance deficits in murine models of neuropsychiatric lupus and Alzheimer’s disease. Lastly, we highlight the need for standardization of inferential criteria on “cognitive” dysfunction in experimental rodents and exclusion of preparations of a limited scientific merit. A deeper appreciation for the multifactorial nature of performance in WM may also help to reveal other deficits that herald the onset of neurodegenerative brain disorders.


Differences in Behavioral Responding in Adult and Aged Rats Following Chronic Ethanol Exposure

A Novier, LC Ornelas…

Research suggests symptoms of chronic alcoholism, and withdrawal may be more severe in elderly compared with younger adults. However, examination of the effects of long-term ethanol (EtOH) consumption and withdrawal is limited in aged rodents. We thus investigated EtOH withdrawal and potential deficits in cognitive and motor behavior in young adult and aged rats. We also examined the effects of acute allopregnanolone as a potential mechanism contributing to age-related differences in EtOH's cognitive-impairing effects.

Treatment of traumatic brain injury in rats with N-acetyl-seryl-aspartyl-lysyl-proline

Y Zhang, ZG Zhang, M Chopp, Y Meng, L Zhang…

The authors' previous studies have suggested that thymosin beta 4 (Tβ4), a major actin-sequestering protein, improves functional recovery after neural injury. N-acetyl-seryl-aspartyl-lysyl-proline (AcSDKP) is an active peptide fragment of Tβ4. Its effect as a treatment of traumatic brain injury (TBI) has not been investigated. Thus, this study was designed to determine whether AcSDKP treatment improves functional recovery in rats after TBI.

April 2016, Publications using Morris Water Maze

Morin reverses neuropathological and cognitive impairments in APPswe/PS1dE9 mice by targeting multiple pathogenic mechanisms

Y Du, J Qu, W Zhang, M Bai, Q Zhou, Z Zhang, Z Li…

Alzheimer's disease; Amyloid-beta protein; Tau phosphorylation; Neuroinflammation; Cognitive deficits; Morin

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia worldwide, characterized by progressive cognitive impairment and multiple distinct neuropathological features. Currently, there are no available therapies to delay or block the disease progression. Thus, the disease-modifying therapies are urgent for this devastating disorder by simultaneously targeting multiple distinct pathological processes. Morin, a natural bioflavonoid, have been shown to be strongly neuroprotective in vitro and in vivo. In this study, we first investigated the disease-modifying effects of chronic morin administration on the neuropathological and cognitive impairments in APPswe/PS1dE9 double transgenic mice. Our results showed that chronic morin administration prevented spatial learning and memory deficits in the APPswe/PS1dE9 mice. Morin treatment in the APPswe/PS1dE9 mice markedly reduced cerebral Aβ production and Aβ plaque burden via promoting non-amyloidogenic APP processing pathway by increasing ADAM10 expression, inhibiting amyloidogenic APP processing pathway by decreased BACE1 and PS1 expression, and facilitating Aβ degradation by enhancing Aβ-degrading enzyme expression. In addition, we also found that morin treatment in the APPswe/PS1dE9 mice markedly decreased tau hyperphosphorylation via its inhibitory effect on CDK5 signal pathway. Furthermore, morin treatment in the APPswe/PS1dE9 mice markedly reduced the activated glial cells and increased the expression of synaptic markers. Collectively, our findings demonstrate that chronic morin treatment restores cognitive functions and reverses multiple distinct neuropathological AD-like hallmarks in the APPswe/PS1dE9 mice. This study provides novel insights into the neuroprotective actions and neurobiological mechanisms of morin against AD, suggesting that morin is a potently promising disease-modifying agent for treatment of AD.


Adolescent Choline Supplementation Attenuates Working Memory Deficits in Rats Exposed to Alcohol During the Third Trimester Equivalent

RD Schneider, JD Thomas


  • Fetal Alcohol;
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders;
  • Treatment;
  • Nutrition


Children exposed to alcohol prenatally may suffer from behavioral and cognitive alterations that adversely affect their quality of life. Animal studies have shown that perinatal supplementation with the nutrient choline can attenuate ethanol's adverse effects on development; however, it is not clear how late in development choline can be administered and still effectively reduce the consequences of prenatal alcohol exposure. Using a rodent model, this study examined whether choline supplementation is effective in mitigating alcohol's teratogenic effects when administered during adolescence/young adulthood.


Sprague–Dawley rats were exposed to alcohol (5.25 g/kg/d) during the third trimester equivalent brain growth spurt, which occurs from postnatal day (PD) 4 to 9, via oral intubation. Sham-intubated and nontreated controls were included. Subjects were treated with 100 mg/kg/d choline chloride or vehicle from PD 40 to 60, a period equivalent to young adulthood in the rat. After the choline treatment had ceased, subjects were tested on a series of behavioral tasks: open field activity (PD 61 to 64), Morris water maze spatial learning (PD 65 to 73), and spatial working memory (PD 87 to 91).


Ethanol-exposed subjects were overactive in the activity chambers and impaired on both the spatial and the working memory versions of the Morris water maze. Choline treatment failed to attenuate alcohol-related overactivity in the open field and deficits in Morris water maze performance. In contrast, choline supplementation significantly mitigated alcohol-related deficits in working memory, which may suggest that choline administration at this later developmental time affects functioning of the prefrontal cortex.


The results indicate that adolescent choline supplementation can attenuate some, but not all, of the behavioral deficits associated with early developmental alcohol exposure. The results of this study indicate that dietary intervention may reduce some fetal alcohol effects, even when administered later in life, findings with important implications for adolescents and young adults with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

Diffuse traumatic axonal injury in mice induces complex behavioural alterations that are normalized by neutralization of interleukin‐1β

S Ekmark‐Lewén, J Flygt…


  • axonal injury;
  • behavioural outcome;
  • central fluid percussion injury;
  • interleukin-1β;
  • traumatic brain injury


Widespread traumatic axonal injury (TAI) results in brain network dysfunction, which commonly leads to persisting cognitive and behavioural impairments following traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBI induces a complex neuroinflammatory response, frequently located at sites of axonal pathology. The role of the pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin (IL)-1β has not been established in TAI. An IL-1β-neutralizing or a control antibody was administered intraperitoneally at 30 min following central fluid percussion injury (cFPI), a mouse model of widespread TAI. Mice subjected to moderate cFPI (n = 41) were compared with sham-injured controls (n = 20) and untreated, naive mice (n = 9). The anti-IL-1β antibody reached the target brain regions in adequate therapeutic concentrations (up to ~30 μg/brain tissue) at 24 h post-injury in both cFPI (n = 5) and sham-injured (n = 3) mice, with lower concentrations at 72 h post-injury (up to ~18 μg/g brain tissue in three cFPI mice). Functional outcome was analysed with the multivariate concentric square field (MCSF) test at 2 and 9 days post-injury, and the Morris water maze (MWM) at 14–21 days post-injury. Following TAI, the IL-1β-neutralizing antibody resulted in an improved behavioural outcome, including normalized behavioural profiles in the MCSF test. The performance in the MWM probe (memory) trial was improved, although not in the learning trials. The IL-1β-neutralizing treatment did not influence cerebral ventricle size or the number of microglia/macrophages. These findings support the hypothesis that IL-1β is an important contributor to the processes causing complex cognitive and behavioural disturbances following TAI.

March 2016 - A Few Publications using Morris Water Maze

Glutamatergic and central cholinergic dysfunction in the CA1, CA2 and CA3 fields on spatial learning and memory in chronic cerebral ischemia—Induced vascular …

Y Cao, Z Gou, Y Du, Y Fan, L Liang, Y Yan, P Lin…

Some Morris Water Maze Publications, February 2016

Glutamatergic and central cholinergic dysfunction in the CA1, CA2 and CA3 fields on spatial learning and memory in chronic cerebral ischemia—Induced vascular …

Y Cao, Z Gou, Y Du, Y Fan, L Liang, Y Yan, P Lin… 

Some of the Publications using Morris Water Maze, January 2016

Spatial learning and neurogenesis: Effects of cessation of wheel running and survival of novel neurons by engagement in cognitive tasks

Monday, April 27, 2015

Recent Publications

A few recent publications:

Prenatal stress induces spatial memory deficits and epigenetic changes in the hippocampus indicative of heterochromatin formation and reduced gene expression

JD Benoit, P RakicKM Frick - Behavioural brain research, 2015 - Elsevier
... 1.3. Morris water maze. The water maze consisted of a white circular tank (103 cm in diameter)
filled with water colored white with tempera paint and maintained at 24 ± 2 °C during testing.
Data were recorded using an automated tracking system (HVS Image, Hampton, UK). ...

Simvastatin restored vascular reactivity, endothelial function and reduced string vessel pathology in a mouse model of cerebrovascular disease

XK Tong, E Hamel - Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism, 2015 -
... Spatial memory was tested in the Morris water maze, as described before. ... These parameters
including the escape latency during the hidden platform training were recorded and analyzed
(2020 Plus tracking system and Water 2020 software, HVS Image, Buckingham, UK). ... 

Neuroinflammation, mitochondrial defects and neurodegeneration in mucopolysaccharidosis III type C mouse model

C Martins, H Hůlková, L Dridi, V Dormoy-Raclet… - Brain, 2015 - Oxford Univ Press
Severe progressive neurological paediatric disease mucopolysaccharidosis III type C is caused by mutations in the HGSNAT gene leading to deficiency of acetyl-CoA: α-glucosaminide N-acetyltransferase involved in the lysosomal catabolism of heparan sulphate. To understand the pathophysiology of the disease we generated a mouse model of mucopolysaccharidosis III type C by germline inactivation of the Hgsnat gene. ...

Urokinase-type plasminogen activator deficiency has little effect on seizure susceptibility and acquired epilepsy phenotype but reduces spontaneous exploration in …

J Rantala, S Kemppainen, XE Ndode-Ekane… - Epilepsy & Behavior, 2015 - Elsevier
... The Morris water maze was used to measure spatial learning and memory. ... A computer connected
to an image analyzer (HVS Image®, Hampton, UK) calculated the escape latency (time between
the start and the end), swim path length, and swimming speed. ...

Chronic up-regulation of the SHH pathway normalizes some developmental effects of trisomy in Ts65Dn mice

T Dutka, D Hallberg, RH Reeves - Mechanisms of development, 2015 - Elsevier
... The improvement in cerebellar structure coincided with an improvement in the performance of
the trisomic mice in the Morris water maze (MWM) (Das et al., 2013), a learning and memory
task linked to hippocampal and cerebellar function (D'Hooge and De Deyn, 2001). ...