Thursday, April 23, 2009

But Not Unhappy Science Friday: How can you tell if a rodent is depressed?

In recent internet surfing I came across a very scientific article, Molecular Switch Linking Infectious Disease And Depression Identified. The study came to some interesting and complicated conclusions--something about a link between the molecular changes in people with chronic inflammatory diseases and depression (I won't try to explain any more because I'm not sure I even really understood it). Apparently there are all sorts of implications for the next generation of antidepressant. But reading the article left me with one huge, nagging question:

How can you tell if a mouse if depressed?

See, the researchers did all their experimenting on mice and their conclusions are based on observed behavior in the mice. So I'm just wondering how can they tell? And, really, how many other treatments are based on interpretations of mouse behavior?

Oh, that's right! Almost all of them. (For proof read here, here, here, and here!)

But don't worry, researchers have also found that ever-happy mice may hold the key to new treatment of depression.

Somehow, I'm not convinced.


Mindy said...

I don't know ... that mouse sure looks depressed to me!

Elizabeth-W said...

Probably depressed mice sleep more, aren't as good at mazes, don't groom their babies as often, stuff like that.
It looks that one mouse like PB and J.

Laura said...

Elizabeth-W--you have all the answers, don't you? :)

Phdgirl78 said...

You can't tell if a mouse is depressed. Depressive-like behaviors are used through methods such as forced swim test and tail suspension test. Maze work is more often used to test cognition and memory. I believe there are videos of both forced swim and tail suspension on youtube if you are curious.

Unknown said...

there are various behavioral and cognitive tasks that scientist employ to asses depression in mice, these tests are very translational to the human component