The development of a cognitive rehabilitation task for mice
Obesity, neurodegenerative diseases, and injury can all lead to cognitive deficits, which can be improved clinically with the implementation of cognitive rehabilitation. Due to a lack of effective cognitive rehabilitation tools in mice, we re-designed a cognitive task utilized to detect problem-solving deficits, to develop a cognitive rehabilitation paradigm for mice. In this study, we modified the Puzzle Box task by exposing B6 mice to a variety of obstacles and assessing the escape latencies. We then combined obstacles in order to create a “complex obstacle” for the problem-solving task. The mice display an improvement in the performance with repetition, evident by a shorter escape latency and the ability to maintain this improvement in performance, indicative of long-term memory. Given that this approach is new, we validated whether this task could successfully detect deficits in a mouse model of cognitive impairment, the high-fat diet mouse. We demonstrate that high-fat diet mice have longer escape latencies when exposed to the complex obstacle compared to standard diet control mice. Taken together, these data suggest that the Puzzle Box is a valid task for cognitive rehabilitation in mice.