A Robotic System for Adaptive Training and Function Assessment of Forelimb Retraction in Mice

September 19, 2018

Maria PasquiniStefano LaiCristina SpallettiMarina CracchioloSara ContiAlessandro PanareseMatteo CaleoSilvestro Micera

A Robotic System for Adaptive Training and Function Assessment of Forelimb Retraction in Mice

Rodent models are decisive for translational research in healthy and pathological conditions of motor function thanks to specific similarities with humans. Here, we present an upgraded version of the M-Platform, a robotic device previously designed to train mice during forelimb retraction tasks. This new version significantly extends its possibilities for murine experiments during motor tasks: 1) an actuation system for friction adjustment allows to automatically adapt pulling difficulty; 2) the device can be used both for training, with a retraction task, and for assessment, with an isometric task; and 3) the platform can be integrated with a neurophysiology systems to record simultaneous cortical neural activity. Results of the validation experiments with healthy mice confirmed that the M-Platform permits precise adjustments of friction during the task, thus allowing to change its difficulty and that these variations induce a different improvement in motor performance, after specific training sessions. Moreover, simultaneous and high quality (high signal-to-noise ratio) neural signals can be recorded from the rostral forelimb area (RFA) during task execution. With the novel features presented herein, the M-Platform may allow to investigate the outcome of a customized motor rehabilitation protocol after neural injury, to analyze task-related signals from brain regions interested by neuroplastic events and to perform optogenetic silencing or stimulation during experiments in transgenic mice.

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