Gregorio and Claudia’s paper on directional reaching in mice is finally out in Cell Reports!
Over the last few years, technological advances in microscopy, molecular and genetic tools have boosted the neuroscience field by combining engineered virus, transgenic mice lines and revolutionary recording and manipulation techniques of brain activity. However, the full potential of these tools is currently limited by the absence of behavioral frameworks for mice which have not followed the same pace of innovation.
Here we present a novel framework in which mice were trained to reach for small water droplets, building upon the well characterized (and primate-like) reach-to-grasp movement in rodents. Freely-moving and head-fixed mice very rapidly learned the task. When water rewards were presented at different locations, head-fixed mice executed goal-oriented directional reaches, similar to the primate “center-out” task. To our knowledge, this is the very first time that directional reaches are described in the mouse, thereby finally bridging the gap between motor studies in primates and rodents.