Two Variations and One Similarity in Memory Functions Deployed by Mice and Humans to Support Foraging.
journal contributionposted on 28.04.2021, 15:50 by Spencer Talbot, Todor Gerdjikov, Carlo De Lillo
Assessing variations in cognitive function between humans and animals is vital for understanding the idiosyncrasies of human cognition and for refining animal models of human brain function and disease. We determined memory functions deployed by mice and humans to support foraging with a search task acting as a test battery. Mice searched for food from the top of poles within an open-arena. Poles were divided into groups based on visual cues and baited according to different schedules. White and black poles were baited in alternate trials. Striped poles were never baited. The requirement of the task was to find all baits in each trial. Mice's foraging efficiency, defined as the number of poles visited before all baits were retrieved, improved with practice. Mice learnt to avoid visiting un-baited poles across trials (Long-term memory) and revisits to poles within each trial (Working memory). Humans tested with a virtual-reality version of the task outperformed mice in foraging efficiency, working memory and exploitation of the temporal pattern of rewards across trials. Moreover, humans, but not mice, reduced the number of possible movement sequences used to search the set of poles. For these measures interspecies differences were maintained throughout three weeks of testing. By contrast, long-term-memory for never-rewarded poles was similar in mice and humans after the first week of testing. These results indicate that human cognitive functions relying upon archaic brain structures may be adequately modelled in mice. Conversely, modelling in mice fluid skills likely to have developed specifically in primates, requires caution.