New frontiers in translational research: Touchscreens, open science, and the mouse translational research accelerator platform
Genes, Brain and Behavior
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© 2020 International Behavioural and Neural Genetics Society and John Wiley & Sons Ltd Many neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases and other brain disorders are accompanied by impairments in high-level cognitive functions including memory, attention, motivation, and decision-making. Despite several decades of extensive research, neuroscience is little closer to discovering new treatments. Key impediments include the absence of validated and robust cognitive assessment tools for facilitating translation from animal models to humans. In this review, we describe a state-of-the-art platform poised to overcome these impediments and improve the success of translational research, the Mouse Translational Research Accelerator Platform (MouseTRAP), which is centered on the touchscreen cognitive testing system for rodents. It integrates touchscreen-based tests of high-level cognitive assessment with state-of-the art neurotechnology to record and manipulate molecular and circuit level activity in vivo in animal models during human-relevant cognitive performance. The platform also is integrated with two Open Science platforms designed to facilitate knowledge and data-sharing practices within the rodent touchscreen community, touchscreencognition.org and mousebytes.ca. Touchscreencognition.org includes the Wall, showcasing touchscreen news and publications, the Forum, for community discussion, and Training, which includes courses, videos, SOPs, and symposia. To get started, interested researchers simply create user accounts. We describe the origins of the touchscreen testing system, the novel lines of research it has facilitated, and its increasingly widespread use in translational research, which is attributable in part to knowledge-sharing efforts over the past decade. We then identify the unique features of MouseTRAP that stand to potentially revolutionize translational research, and describe new initiatives to partner with similar platforms such as McGill's M3 platform (m3platform.org).