Bussey-Saksida Touchscreens

The TCNLab shares its touchscreen chambers with the BrainsCAN Rodent Cognition Core (RCC), which supports and subsidizes rodent behavioural based cognitive neuroscience research.

Current methods of cognitive testing in rodents, such as fear conditioning and maze testing, have led to important advancements. However, more recently, we have developed a new method of assessing cognitive behaviour in pre-clinical models, with potentially greater relevance to human disease. This method of testing is much more comparable to test batteries used in humans, such as CANTAB: it uses the same types of stimulus materials (objects and locations on a computer screen), and the same types of responses (responses directly to the stimuli on the screen using a touchscreen apparatus). Very simply, the rat or mouse views a display on the computer screen and makes a choice to an object or a location on the screen by responding directly to the touch-sensitive screen via a nose-poke. The animal is rewarded for correct choices with reward pellets delivered in a food receptacle at the back of the box. A number of published studies have demonstrated the utility of this method for neurobiological investigation. Although most of these studies have been done in the rat, we have now developed the method for mice.


This new form of assessment has three main advantages when compared with previous models.  First, the tasks are more representative of the tasks used to measure cognitive deficits seen in patients - in many cases, virtually identical paradigms and methodologies can be used.  Second, a battery approach can be taken - the tasks are carried out in the same apparatus, using the same type of stimuli, with the same rewards, and requiring the same responses, thereby controlling for many potential confounds. The standardized method of data collection and analysis is perfect for the creation of a database, known as MouseBytes.ca, comparing touchscreen data collected around the world and increasing the likelihood of replication.  Third, there are a number of practical advantages -- many animals can be tested simultaneously, experimenter contact with animals during testing is minimised, and many behavioural measures are possible.

Our current test battery comprises nine tasks which target different aspects of cognitive functioning and different brain regions (particularly the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex and striatum).

These Touchscreen Cognitive Testing Systems are available from Lafayette Instrument.

For more information on rodent touchscreen technology, best practices, and to join an international community of touchscreen enthusiasts, please visit TouchscreenCognition.org.

The TCNLab shares its touchscreen chambers with the BrainsCAN Rodent Cognition Core, which supports and subsidizes rodent behavioural based cognitive neuroscience research here. 

Tim Bussey and Lisa Saksida have established a series of targeted cognitive tests for animals, administered via touchscreen within a custom environment known as the “Bussey-Saksida touchscreen chamber”. Cambridge Enterprise, the technology transfer office of the University of Cambridge, supported commercialization of the Bussey-Saksida chamber, culminating in a license to Campden Instruments. Any financial compensation received from commercialization of the technology is fully invested in further touchscreen development and/or maintenance.

This site contains general information relating to the use of touchscreen operant testing systems. The site content is provided free of charge, is not specific to any brand of touchscreen apparatus, and should not be construed as promotional material.