Animal Behavior (AB) Core

Rose F. Kennedy Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center
Animal Behavior (AB) Core

Center URL:
Core URL:

Core Personnel
Core Director: Gary Schwartz, Ph.D.
Operations Director: Maria Gulinello, Ph.D.

Core Description

The overarching mission of the Animal Behavior (AB) Core is to assist investigators seeking to discover behavioral, physiological and metabolic phenotypes in diverse rodent models of intellectual and developmental disabilities. To achieve this mission, the core performs studies in mice and rats to identify the functional alterations resulting from genetic, developmental or environmental manipulations that may impair neural and behavioral development. These include changes in developmental milestones, sensorimotor function, cognitive function, affective and social behaviors, feeding and activity patterns, body composition and energy expenditure. To enhance research capabilities specific to IDD-related projects, the RFK-IDDRC leadership has leveraged the resources of two existing Einstein shared resources to form the AB Core. These are the Rodent Behavioral Evaluation Core established by the department of neuroscience and headed by Dr. Gulinello, and the Animal Physiology Core developed by the Diabetes Research and Training Center and headed by Dr. Schwartz. By combining existing core capabilities and experienced faculty from the departments of neuroscience and medicine, we have established an Animal Behavior Core uniquely suited to plan, perform and evaluate coordinated behavioral and metabolic assessments in developing and adult rodents.


AB Core is designed to allow pointed state-of-the-art evaluations of behavioral changes in rodents as models of IDD and/or following testing of new therapeutic strategies for such conditions; Animal Physiology; Rodent Behavioral Evaluation 

  1. To provide a broad range of measurements of developmental milestones, cognitive and sensorimotor function, affective, social and motivated behavior and metabolism in developing and adult rodents
  2. To provide expertise in the design of behavioral, physiological and metabolic studies relevant to the developmental regulation of metabolism and behaviors in all domains
  3. To provide training for students, postdoctoral fellows, investigators and technical staff in experimental assessment of behavior and metabolism in rodent models

  • Cognition - Water maze; Object recognition and placement; Conditioned taste aversion; Spontaneous alternation; Labyrinth maze; Social discrimination; Conditioned place preference
  • Sensorimotor - Balance beam; Grip strength; Rotarod; Visual cliff and placing; Gait analysis; Functional observation battery; Open field (activity, habituation and sensitization, risk assessment, anxiety); Treadmills and running wheels
  • Affect/Emotion/Autonomic - Elevated plus maze; Forced swim test; Sociability, social preference, social interactions; Anhedonia; Acoustic startle reflex and sensorimotor gaiting; Operant chambers; Novelty-induced suppression of feeding (depression, anxiety, anhedonia- motivated behavior)
  • Metabolism/Body Composition - Automated food and drink monitors and analysis; Calorimetry chambers and CLAMS systems; ECHO MRI (body composition); Micro CT scanner &mdash (distribution of adipose tissue, adiposity within peripheral organs, and cardiac, bone and CNS morphological assessments)
  • Nociception - Tactile sensitivity
  • Small-animal surgery (chronic implantation of brain ventricular or parenchymal cannula for the targeted delivery of biologically active agents directly into the brain regions of interest)
  • Equipment for brain infusions and indwelling canulae
  • Tracking software and statistical analysis software 

Last Edited: 09/05/12 12:00 AM by Corina Miclea