, Volume 231, Issue 6, pp 1125–1146 | Cite as

Assessing behavioural and cognitive domains of autism spectrum disorders in rodents: current status and future perspectives

  • Martien J. KasEmail author
  • Jeffrey C. Glennon
  • Jan Buitelaar
  • Elodie Ey
  • Barbara Biemans
  • Jacqueline Crawley
  • Robert H. Ring
  • Clara Lajonchere
  • Frederic Esclassan
  • John Talpos
  • Lucas P. J. J. Noldus
  • J. Peter H. Burbach
  • Thomas Steckler


The establishment of robust and replicable behavioural testing paradigms with translational value for psychiatric diseases is a major step forward in developing and testing etiology-directed treatment for these complex disorders. Based on the existing literature, we have generated an inventory of applied rodent behavioural testing paradigms relevant to autism spectrum disorders (ASD). This inventory focused on previously used paradigms that assess behavioural domains that are affected in ASD, such as social interaction, social communication, repetitive behaviours and behavioural inflexibility, cognition as well as anxiety behaviour. A wide range of behavioural testing paradigms for rodents were identified. However, the level of face and construct validity is highly variable. The predictive validity of these paradigms is unknown, as etiology-directed treatments for ASD are currently not on the market. To optimise these studies, future efforts should address aspects of reproducibility and take into account data about the neurodevelopmental underpinnings and trajectory of ASD. In addition, with the increasing knowledge of processes underlying ASD, such as sensory information processes and synaptic plasticity, phenotyping efforts should include multi-level automated analysis of, for example, representative task-related behavioural and electrophysiological read-outs.


Behaviour Cognition Animal model Genetics Phenotype 



The authors participate in the EU-AIMS project that receives support from the Innovative Medicines Initiative Joint Undertaking under grant agreement no. 115300, resources of which are composed of financial contribution from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013), from the EFPIA companies in kind contribution and from Autism Speaks.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martien J. Kas
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jeffrey C. Glennon
    • 2
  • Jan Buitelaar
    • 2
  • Elodie Ey
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Barbara Biemans
    • 6
  • Jacqueline Crawley
    • 7
  • Robert H. Ring
    • 8
  • Clara Lajonchere
    • 8
    • 9
  • Frederic Esclassan
    • 10
  • John Talpos
    • 11
  • Lucas P. J. J. Noldus
    • 12
  • J. Peter H. Burbach
    • 1
  • Thomas Steckler
    • 11
  1. 1.Department of Translational Neuroscience, Brain Center Rudolf MagnusUniversity Medical Center UtrechtUtrechtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Department of Cognitive Neuroscience, and Karakter Child and Adolescent Psychiatry University CenterRadboud University Nijmegen Medical CentreNijmegenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Human Genetics and Cognitive FunctionsInstitute PasteurParisFrance
  4. 4.CNRS URA 2182 ‘Genes, Synapses and Cognition’Institut PasteurParisFrance
  5. 5.Sorbonne Paris Cité, Human Genetics and Cognitive FunctionsUniversity Paris DiderotParisFrance
  6. 6.Department of NeuroscienceF. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd.BaselSwitzerland
  7. 7.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesUniversity of California Davis School of Medicine SacramentoSacramentoUSA
  8. 8.Autism speaksPrincetonUSA
  9. 9.Department of Biomedical EngineeringKeck School of Medicine University of Southern CaliforniaCaliforniaUSA
  10. 10.Lilly Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience, Lilly Research LaboratoriesEli Lilly & Co. Ltd, Erl Wood ManorSurreyUK
  11. 11.Janssen Research & DevelopmentBeerseBelgium
  12. 12.Noldus Information Technology BVWageningenThe Netherlands

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