The advent of transgenic technology in rodents has yielded a goldmine of models offering insights into molecular and cellular aspects of sensory function and pathology. The vibrant research community at WUSM includes many investigators with a primary interest in sensory function and dysfunction. Moreover, because insights sometimes come from models intended for other purposes, all investigators must be encouraged to approach their models from a broad perspective, and should face as few roadblocks as possible in asking larger questions. The goal of the RCAVS Functional Testing Core (FTC) is to impart to investigators the ability to assess the auditory, vestibular, and visual systems of small animals in a uniform way, applying state-of-the-art methods and equipment. Accordingly, the FTC maintains and operates equipment serving the separate requirements of vestibular, auditory, and visual testing to make well conceived, comprehensive functional testing available to our colleagues within the Research Core Center and the larger research community.
The Specific Aims of the FTC are: 1) To facilitate comprehensive sensory (inner ear and visual) testing in mouse and other small animal models. Auditory tests offered include auditory brainstem response (ABR) thresholds, ABR input/output analyses, ABR waveform and latency analysis, and ABR temporal and spectral masking profiles. In addition, distortion product otoacoustic emissions'(DPOAEs) provide information about outer hair cell motor function. Vestibular tests principally encompass tracking of eye movements through analysis of reflected light as animals are subjected to controlled rotations. Finally, our experience has shown that inner ear and visual pathology often coincide. We have published expertise in recording of flash electroretinograms (ERGs) and have incorporated this capability into our equipment and testing regime. All tests can either be done by Core staff, or we can train an investigator's own staff for perform tests. 2) To provide consultative services that support proper application of sensory tests and reporting of results. Upon request. Core staff assist investigators in interpretation of findings, statistical analyses, and presentation conventions. 3) To promote interactions and stimulate new research endeavors by RCAVS investigators and throughout WUSM. Research Core services are advertised on the WUSM intranet, and promoted in occasional forums. The RCAVS has sparked collaborations between members of several departments and continues to seed interactions between scientists in diverse disciplines.
The gene revolution has led to the creation of a vast number of transgenic and gene knockout rodent models. These represent a virtual goldmine for new insights into sensory function and dysfunction, but that potential can only be realized if new models are comprehensively examined both anatomically and functionally. The Functional Testing Core promotes thorough and rigorous functional analysis of inner ear and visual function so that the value for public health of new animal models can be fully realized.
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