Trial-unique Nonmatching-to-Location Task (TUNL) for Mice

Trial-unique Nonmatching-to-Location Task (TUNL) for Mice

Model 89545A

Barnard, I. L., Onofrychuk, T. J., McElroy, D. L., & Howland, J. G. (2021). The Touchscreen‐Based Trial‐Unique, Nonmatching‐To‐Location (TUNL) Task as a Measure of Working Memory and Pattern Separation in Rats and Mice. Current Protocols, 1(9). - Abstract

Palmer, D., Dumont, J. R., Dexter, T. D., Prado, M. A. M., Finger, E., Bussey, T. J., & Saksida, L. M. (2021). Touchscreen cognitive testing: Cross-species translation and co-clinical trials in neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric disease. In Neurobiology of Learning and Memory (Vol. 182, p. 107443). - Abstract

Shepherd, A., Zhang, T., Hoffmann, L. B., Zeleznikow-Johnston, A. M., Churilov, L., Hannan, A. J., & Burrows, E. L. (2021). A Preclinical Model of Computerized Cognitive Training: Touchscreen Cognitive Testing Enhances Cognition and Hippocampal Cellular Plasticity in Wildtype and Alzheimer's Disease Mice. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 15(December), 1-15. - Abstract

Lee, J., van den Buuse, M., Nithianantharajah, J., & Jones, N. C. (2020). Acute NMDA receptor antagonism impairs working memory performance but not attention in rats-Implications for the NMDAr hypofunction theory of schizophrenia. Behavioral Neuroscience, 134(4), 323-331. - Abstract

Mosser, C.-A., Haqqee, Z., Nieto-Posadas, A., Murai, K., Stefano, S., Williams, S., & Brandon, M. P. (2020). The McGill-Mouse-Marmoset Platform: A Standardized Approach for High-throughput Imaging of Neuronal Dynamics During Behavior. BioRxiv. - Abstract



TUNL can be thought of as a version of delayed nonmatching-to-place (DNMTP), in which the subjects are presented with a sample location, and following a delay, with the (incorrect, S-) sample location and a (correct, S+) nonmatching location. DNMTP has been shown to be vulnerable to non-spatial mediating strategies. TUNL eliminates these problems by using multiple, trial-unique locations, preventing the use of mediating strategies. Animals with lesions in the dorsal hippocampus or decreased hippocampal neurogenesis were impaired when the locations were close together, but not when they were far apart. This feature also renders the task exquisitely sensitive to hippocampal dysfunction, tapping both the role of the hippocampus in memory and in pattern separation. The rat version uses 15 individual locations. A simpler version using 5 positions is available for mice.

Example Neural Systems Involved

  • Hippocampus
  • Cholinergic system
  • NMDA Receptors
  • Prefrontal Cortex Amygdala

Clinical Areas Showing Impairment

  • Schizophrenia
  • Alzheimers's

Cognitive Functions Covered

  • Working Memory

Typical Training Times (depends on strain and age)

  • 1-2 weeks to train to touch the screen and initiate the task
  • ~20 sessions


  • A test of working memory
  • All training paradigms and advice included


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