The sociability cage is designed to test the social behavior or social memory of one individual towards others.Typically, it is a three-chambered cage in which the middle chamber can be used as a neutral starting point.The apparatus also includes two removable clear acrylic sliding doors to prevent access to the side chambers, and two small acrylic cages for the introduction of the unfamiliar (stranger) mice. A small space between the chambers allows you to slip a piece of paper inside in order to prevent visual contact between the three chambers.
Apparatus and Equipment
The apparatus is a polycarbonate rectangle (35 x 20 x 25 cm) that is divided into three chambers using removable partitions. Each of these dividers (20 x 22 cm) has a sliding door of about 4 x 4 cm to allow free movement of the animal in the chambers. The central chamber serves as the start area while the lateral chambers are used to hold a stimulus. Live stimulus is usually placed in an acrylic cage of height 15 cm having a diameter of 7 cm. These cages allow interactions between the subject and stimulus and help limit aggressive interactions.
Psychological disorders such as schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder, often lead to deficits in social behavior and social recognition. The Sociability Chamber test enables assessing this social behavior by observing the choice the subject makes when presented with the option of an empty chamber and a stimulus animal. Further, the test gives the opportunity to understand the social preference of the subject when it is allowed to choose between a familiar and an unfamiliar stimulus animal.The test subject is first placed in the apparatus with all the divider doors opened and is allowed to explore the apparatus for about 5 to 10 minutes. During this period the lateral chambers contain empty cages to familiarize the test subject to them. Once it has explored the entire apparatus, it is placed back in the central chamber with the doors to the lateral chambers closed. It is allowed another 5 to 10 minutes to explore this area.Following the pre-training, the test subject is introduced into the central start chamber and allowed to acclimate to the apparatus. The stimulus subject is then placed in one of the lateral chambers chosen at random while the doors of the lateral chambers remain closed. An empty cage is kept in the non-stimulus chamber. The chambers of the caged stimulus and empty cage are altered at random for every test subject. The doors to the lateral chambers are opened, and the test subject is allowed to explore the apparatus.During the testing session, the experimenter observes the trials from outside the test area to avoid influencing the behavior of the test subject. Data is collected for the amount of time spent in each of the three chambers, the number of entries into the chambers and the time spent sniffing each cage. The session is ended after 10 minutes of exploration.Immediately after the Sociability test, the test subject is placed back in the central start chamber, and the doors to the lateral chambers are closed. A second stimulus subject is placed within the earlier empty cage. Now the two lateral compartments contain an already interacted stimulus subject and a novel unfamiliar stimulus subject.
The Three-Chamber Sociability apparatus is a novel apparatus developed for studying social deficits as seen in neuropsychiatric disorders and neurodevelopment disorders.The acrylic cage used to hold the live stimulus allows for sensory interactions while limiting aggressive behaviors.The Three-Chamber Sociability test can be coupled with other tests such as Partition tests, Resident-Intruder tests, Reciprocal Interactions test, etc. to understand the social behavior of the test subject further.