Can mice really play ipad games for milkshake rewards and how can this help us understand motivation in autism spectrum disorder?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition characterised by differences in social interaction and restrictive and repetitive behaviour. Motivation and reward are an understudied area of ASD and could underlie the development of core traits.

We are training mice to use touchscreens to assess their motivation and how they respond to rewards. They are like ipads for mice. Our mice learn to nose-poke an image on a touchscreen for a shot of strawberry milkshake. We then make it harder, requiring them to press the image more and more times for the same reward. We have shown that mice with an ASD mutation are not as willing to work for the reward as mice within the mutation. Join us to understand why. This project will suit someone who is excited about handling mice and has a high attention to detail.


  • Explore what underlies motivation impairments in a mouse model containing an ASD associated mutation.

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