Social recognition memory is essential for the establishment and maintenance of a rodent colony. Recognition memory is important for social hierarchy, mate and offspring recognition, and interspecies recognition. Interspecies recognition is vital for recognizing frequent visitors to the animal’s habitat and whether or not the visitors pose a threat to the animals or colony (Macbeth et al., 2009; Noack et al., 2010). Here, we describe a protocol which effectively and reproducibly measures the social recognition for a juvenile male, a female, a mouse of another strain, and a rat. This task relies on the animal’s innate tendency to explore a novel social partner and decrease the exploration of a known familiar social partner (Thor et al., 1982). A significant decrease in the exploration of a partner from the training session to the recall session demonstrates a memory of the social partner. Also, we describe a social recognition procedure, the habituation-dishabituation paradigm that closely mimics typical short, frequent interactions between animals in a colony (Dantzer et al., 1987; Winslow and Camacho, 1995). Further, olfaction is a key component of social recognition, to test olfaction see Jacobs et al. (2016). In this protocol, we use transgenic NR2A overexpression mice to demonstrate how an impairment in social recognition memory may appear.
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