The use of the Emotional-Object Recognition as an assay to assess learning and memory associated to an aversive stimulus in rodents

Anna Brancato, Gianluca Lavanco, Angela Cavallaro, Fulvio Plescia, Carla Cannizzaro
Journal of Neuroscience Methods. 2016-12-01; 274: 106-115
DOI: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2016.09.010

Read on PubMed

BACKGROUND: Emotionally salient experiences induce the formation of explicit
memory traces, besides eliciting automatic or implicit emotional memory in
rodents. This study aims at investigating the implementation of a novel task for
studying the formation of limbic memory engrams as a result of the acquisition-
and retrieval- of fear-conditioning – biased declarative memory traces, measured
by animal discrimination of an “emotional-object”. Moreover, by using this new
method we investigated the potential interactions between stimulation of
cannabinoid transmission and integration of emotional information and cognitive

NEW METHOD: The Emotional-Object Recognition task is composed of 3 following
sessions: habituation; cued fear-conditioned learning; emotional recognition.
Rats are exposed to Context “B chamber” for habituation and cued
fear-conditioning, and tested in Context “A chamber” for emotional-object

RESULTS: Cued fear-conditioning induces a reduction in emotional-object
exploration time during the Emotional-Object Recognition task in controls. The
activation of cannabinoid signalling impairs limbic memory formation, with
respect to vehicle.

COMPARISON TO EXISTING METHODS: The Emotional-Object Recognition test overcomes
several limitations of commonly employed methods that explore declarative-,
spatial memory and fear-conditioning in a non-integrated manner. It allows the
assessment of unbiased cognitive indicators of emotional learning and memory.
CONCLUSIONS: The Emotional-Object Recognition task is a valuable tool for
investigating whether, and at what extent, specific drugs or pathological
conditions that interfere with the individual affective/emotional homeostasis,
can modulate the formation of emotionally salient explicit memory traces, thus
jeopardizing control and regulation of animal behavioural strategy.


Know more about