Mice discriminate between stationary and moving 2D shapes: Application to the object recognition task to increase attention

Daniela Braida, Andrea Donzelli, Roberta Martucci, Luisa Ponzoni, Alberto Pauletti, Alan Langus, Mariaelvina Sala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Selective attention can be assessed with the novel object recognition (NOR) test. In the standard version of this test the selection of objects to be used is critical. We created a modified version of NOR, the virtual object recognition test (VORT) in mice, where the 3D objects were replaced with highly discriminated geometrical shapes and presented on two 3.5-inch widescreen displays. No difference in the discrimination index (from 5. min to 96. h of inter-trial) was found between NOR and VORT. Scopolamine and mecamylamine decreased the discrimination index. Conversely, the discrimination index increased when nicotine was given to mice. No further improvement in the discrimination index was observed when nicotine was injected in mice presented with highly discriminable shapes. To test the possibility that object movements increased mice's attention in the VORT, different movements were applied to the same geometrical shapes previously presented. Mice were able to distinguish among different movements (horizontal, vertical, oblique). Notably, the shapes previously found not distinguishable when stationary were better discriminated when moving. Collectively, these findings indicate that VORT, based on virtual geometric simple shapes, offers the possibility to obtain rapid information on amnesic/pro-amnestic potential of new drugs. The introduction of motion is a strong cue that makes the task more valuable to study attention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-101
Number of pages7
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2013


  • Cholinergic drugs
  • Motion
  • Shape
  • Visual memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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