The neurobiology of environmentally induced stereotypic behaviours in barren versus enriched housed laboratory mice (Mus musculus)

Kitchenham, Lindsey
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University of Guelph

The neurobiology of environmentally induced stereotypic behaviours (e.g. pacing in zoo carnivores, crib-biting in horses) is hypothesized to involve the disruption of coordinated function within the basal ganglia (’Basal Ganglia [BG] Pathways Hypotheses’) and/or between the basal ganglia and the cortex (‘Cortico-Striatal-Thalamo-Cortical [CSTC] Circuits Hypotheses‘). However, these hypotheses have not yet been fully supported by the current research. Currently tests of these hypotheses in mice (Mus musculus) are incomplete: missing regions of interest, housing, or individual difference effects. My research used cytochrome oxidase histochemistry to examine neuronal activity in each of the basal ganglia nuclei for enriched versus barren housed mice and assessed whether basal ganglia activity correlated with SBs. None of the BG Pathways hypotheses were supported. Thus, the neurobiological mechanism for mouse SBs remains unknown. Further research is important for understanding the impact of captivity on animals’ functioning, and whether SBs are a sign of pathology.

Basal Ganglia, Cortico-Striatal-Thalamo-Cortical Circuits, Stereotypic Behaviour, Environmental Enrichment, Mus Musculus, Cytochrome Oxidase, Laboratory Mice