The NEWMEDS rodent touchscreen test battery for cognition relevant to schizophrenia
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Rationale: The NEWMEDS initiative (Novel Methods leading to New Medications in Depression and Schizophrenia, http://www.newmeds-europe.com) is a large industrial-academic collaborative project aimed at developing new methods for drug discovery for schizophrenia. As part of this project, Work package 2 (WP02) has developed and validated a comprehensive battery of novel touchscreen tasks for rats and mice for assessing cognitive domains relevant to schizophrenia. Objectives: This article provides a review of the touchscreen battery of tasks for rats and mice for assessing cognitive domains relevant to schizophrenia and highlights validation data presented in several primary articles in this issue and elsewhere. Methods: The battery consists of the five-choice serial reaction time task and a novel rodent continuous performance task for measuring attention, a three-stimulus visual reversal and the serial visual reversal task for measuring cognitive flexibility, novel non-matching to sample-based tasks for measuring spatial working memory and paired-associates learning for measuring long-term memory. Results: The rodent (i.e. both rats and mice) touchscreen operant chamber and battery has high translational value across species due to its emphasis on construct as well as face validity. In addition, it offers cognitive profiling of models of diseases with cognitive symptoms (not limited to schizophrenia) through a battery approach, whereby multiple cognitive constructs can be measured using the same apparatus, enabling comparisons of performance across tasks. Conclusion: This battery of tests constitutes an extensive tool package for both model characterisation and pre-clinical drug discovery.