The animal behavioral core will support activities across the research program by conducting assessments in mouse genetic models of the 'DISC1 interactome'that will be informative about brain circuitry and psychological processes implicated in schizophrenia. The primary behavioral battery, in line with the neurodevelopmental perspective of the research program, is focused on component functions of prefrontal cortex. Paradigms developed for this purpose have revealed behavioral phenotypes clearly indicative of frontal cortical dysfunction in DISC1 transgenic mice. The use of a common behavioral platform across projects with different genetic models will provide data relevant to mechanistic hypotheses, complementing the experimental approaches used by individual investigators. The functional assessments will address behavioral flexibility, goal-directed action and the interface of action/effort with attributes of reward experience and incentive learning. Specifically, the activities of the core will 1) plan, design, and implement behavioral experiments with a focus on analytically powerful protocols targeting the prefrontal and associated forebrain systems;2) provide data analysis and interpretation of findings in support of the projects, including preparation of publications;and 3) database development for all data in the platform of behavioral assessments to allow across-project analyses and data-sharing beyond the research program.
Many clinical symptoms of schizophrenia are likely to reflect dysfunction in frontal cortical circuits. Core B will exploit behavioral assessments specifically targeting endophenotypes/phenotypes relevant to prefrontal function. Beyond its scientific value to the immediate objectives of the research program, the work will also identify assessments that are best suited to target dysfunctional mechanisms in animal models of schizophrenia.
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