Tuesday 6/5

Today was the day….time to put the mice into the running wheels!!!!

This morning I expectedly had quite a lot of stuff to do, and of course I couldn’t get myself up in the morning, as per usual.  I don’t really understand it–I go to sleep at around the same time I do during the school year and attempt to wake up at 8 like i used to…needless to say it didn’t happen that way.  Maybe all the study of circadian rhythms has screwed mine up!  I got breakfast at Burgess because the dining hall wasn’t open and neither was the Spa. Then I went into the lab to begin prepping the cages.

Our first room of running wheels was all clean, so all I needed to do was get them ready to put mice into.  I took all of the water bottles out of the cages and filled them up.  Then I put bedding material into all of the trays that slide underneath the cages.  I also recopied the identification tagsfor each animal to put on the new cages.  Bernie helped me to determine what mouse should go in what cage in order to control for environmental differences within the room.We used 18 adult male BTBR mice, a strain used as a model for autism due to their anti-social tendencies. They notably lack most of the corpus callosum, an integral part of the brain.  We used male mice because autism is far more common in males.  As controls, we used 5 adult male Balb mice and 6 adult male C57 mice.  Finally, I transferred all 29 mice to their new homes!  Once they were all in the right running wheel cages, I gave them food and put in their water bottles, and I swept the floor.  And voila, they were all ready for data collection! (Or so we thought….)

This is one little BTBR mouse, acclimating to his new home.  The BTBRs seemed a little scared, but we were unconcerned because they are known for their fear of novel behavior.

Here’s one of my BTBR mice.  You can see the patches of fur missing on him,  which show their tendency to exhibit excessive repeated grooming behavior. Repeated behaviors are often associated with autism, which is one of the reasons this strain is used as a model.

Measuring activity with the running wheels is a very interesting process.  The wheels all have a magnet stuck to them, and there is also a magnet on a wire that is attached to both the cages and some control boxes that are stuck to the wall.  Every time the wheel turns, the magnetic fields of the two magnets (on the cage and on the wheel) cross, and an electrical signal is sent to the box on the wall, which is then sent to a computer in a room next to the running wheel rooms to be counted by a computer program that Bernie showed me how to use.  I had to screw all of the magnets onto the cages, which is a big pain and probably gave me carpel tunnel syndrome, and then once we hooked everything up we booted up the PC and started collecting data.

All ready to go!

Everything was going smoothly so far…until we ran into some roadblocks… After the five minute recording time, none of the running wheels had recorded any activity, even though we had turned the wheels manually to make sure the computer would register some value.  Baffled, we did some sleuthing to figure out the problem.  Turns out the system wasn’t even plugged in! Whoops.  Once we plugged it back in it was working properly.  One wheel still didn’t work though, so we switched it out with another properly working one. 

Now all that’s left to do is wait and gather results.  And literature searches…but that’s for tomorrow!

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About kararode

Hey! I'm Kara, and I am creating this blog as a sort-of diary to keep track of my summer research experience at Skidmore College. It is such a great opportunity and I don't want to forget a single bit of it! Feel free to read and take a peek at what it's like to be me, working in the laboratory as a "real" research scientist :)

One response to “Tuesday 6/5

  1. Frances Kersting

    Kara so glad you are posting this
    ,
    enjoy, learning a lot.

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