This week in the lab, the first cohort of rats continued training on the W-Maze Alternation Task. Significant progress has been made on the W-Maze. Almost all of the rats have reached learning criteria and get faster, also making fewer errors, each day! However, one of the rats had not made any effort to move on the maze. We figured he was just not hungry because he had no motivation to move on the track; however, after dropping his weight/food for a day and testing him again, we decided to throw out all of his data and give him to a different lab where he may be of greater use. All in all, this cohort of rats is almost done with maze-ing!
The second cohort of rats began habituation, which is the phase about 4 weeks behind the first cohort of rats. As for habituation with the second cohort of rats, all of the rats are getting accustomed to the height, environment, and reward system on the linear track. Some of the rats are timid with obvious signs like hunched backs and no desire to move. One of the rats has porphyrin (red substance that looks like blood) around his right eye meaning he is stressed. Another two rats have discolored (pink-ish) hair patches on their heads which is also a symptom of stress. Their weights are also starting to drop. As I have said before, we want their weights to drop (a healthy amount) in order to motivate them on the reward based mazes and tracks.
In other news, three rats peed on me this week (haha, how rude). Also, the research specialist who I work with has been prepping for a rat surgery where she will implant a hyperdrive into a rat’s brain to be able to monitor brain signals and neurons and all that fun stuff. Many rats in the lab already had this surgery, but this rat in particular will be kept for us to monitor because the focus is the hippocampus (memory). I am particularly excited because I was asked to watch the surgery! I will definitely give an update on that, but the surgery will happen late March.
*Unfortunately, next week I will not be in the lab or blogging because it is spring break at the UofA and mostly everyone is out of the lab. Fortunately, I have next week off and I’m going to Mexico for a MUCH NEEDED break because I have been going to the lab every day since school ended*
To end this post, here are more pictures of my rats: