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Operon is an automated intra/extra-dimensional (ID-ED) attentional set-shifting task for mice. Attentional set shifting is a measure of cognitive flexibility and executive functions, which refers to the ability to switch between arbitrary internal rules; similar tasks for rodents are currently limited due to their manual-based testing procedures and they are hampering translational advances in psychiatric medicine.

The novel ID/ED Operon task is an effective preclinical tool for drug testing and large genetic relevant screenings to study the executive dysfunctions and cognitive symptoms of psychiatric disorders.

The instrument is composed of two compartments, divided by an automated sliding door. Each compartment contains automated multi-dimensional stimulators (visual, odor and texture), 2 nose poke holes and a pellet dispenser in the middle for the reward. Visual stimulation is provided by multiple coloured LEDs, while an innovative revolver system provides automated tactile stimulation. The optional odor delivery system can provide up to 10 different odors in 2 independent channels.

ID/ED experiments are managed by ANY-maze, which controls all the elements of Operon (via USB), and collects and analyses the data.

Operon chamber layout

Operon has two chambers separated by an automated sliding door. The two chambers are identical:

  1. Pellet dispenser
  2. House Light
  3. Pellet receptacle
  4. Visual stimulation – 6 coloured LEDs
  5. Nose poke / odor delivery
  6. Texture floor – 6 possible textures
Operon chamber layout picture

Odor delivery unit

The optional odor-delivery unit can deliver, under software control, up to 10 different odors in 2 independent channels.

Odor delivery unit picture