Evaluating skilled prehension in mice using an auto-trainer

Robert Hubbard, Jason Dunthorn, Richard J. O’brien, Dan Tasch, Uri Tasch, Steven R. Zeiler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We describe a method to introduce naïve mice to a novel prehension (reach-to-grasp) task. Mice are housed singly in cages with a frontal slot that permits the mouse to reach out of its cage and retrieve food pellets. Minimal food restriction is employed to encourage the mice to perform the food retrieval from the slot. As the mice begin to associate coming to the slot for food, the pellets are manually pulled away to stimulate extension and pronation of their paw to grasp and retrieve the pellet through the frontal slot. When the mice begin to reach for the pellets as they arrive at the slot, the behavioral assay can be performed by measuring the rate at which they successfully grasp and retrieve the desired pellet. They are then introduced to an auto-trainer that automates both the process of providing food pellets for the mouse to grasp, and the recording of successful and failed reaching and grasping attempts. This allows for the collection of reaching data for multiple mice with minimal effort, to be used in experimental analysis as appropriate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere59784
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number151
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Auto-trainer
  • Behavior
  • Behavior
  • Issue 151
  • Motor training
  • Mouse
  • Prehension
  • Reach-to-grasp
  • Stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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