Design and Construction of a Two-Temperature Preference Behavioral Assay for Undergraduate Neuroscience Laboratories

Richard L Daniels, David D Mckemy


Behavioral assays in the undergraduate neuroscience laboratory are useful for illustrating a variety of physiological concepts. An example is homeostatic temperature regulation (thermoregulation). Many model organisms, from flies to mice, regulate internal temperatures in part by moving to suitable climates (thermotaxis). A particularly reliable method of quantifying temperature-dependent thermotactic behaviors is the two- temperature preference behavioral assay. In this preparation, an organism is free to move between two temperature-controlled surfaces, thus revealing its preferred thermal environment. Here we present the design and construction of a two-temperature preference assay chamber. The device uses Peltier-based thermoelectric modules (TEC5) for heating and cooling, and is capable of precision control of temperatures from -5C to 60C. Our approach can be easily adapted for use in a variety of physiological and behavioral assays that require precise temperature control over a wide range of temperatures.

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