Joseph Garner, D.Phil., Associate Professor, received his doctoral degree from the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford, Great Britain, where he studied the developmental neuroethology of stereotypies in captive animals (1995-1999). His postdoctoral research in animal behavior and well-being was undertaken at UC Davis (1999-2004). He served as an Assistant (2004-2010) and an Associate (2010-2011) Professor of animal behavior and well-being in the Department of Animal Sciences at Purdue University, where he also held a courtesy appointment in the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences (2009-2011). Dr. Garner joined the Department of Comparative Medicine at Stanford in 2011. Here he runs Stanford’s Technique Refinement and Innovation Lab, which provides a wide range of support services to assist researchers on campus maximize the efficiency of their work and the well-being of the animals involved.

Dr. Garner’s research interests include the development of refined methods in behavioral research; abnormal behaviors in animals (including barbering and ulcerative dermatitis) and their relationships with abnormal behaviors in humans; mouse well-being and enrichment; and the scientific impact of well-being problems in lab animals. The goal of this work is to understand why most drugs (and other basic science findings) fail to translate into human outcomes, and how changes in animal research can help resolve this problem.

Recognition of Dr. Garner’s work includes awards from the National Center for the 3Rs (UK), the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science, the Swiss Laboratory Animal Science Association, and the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare.

Dr. Garner serves, or has served, as a council member for the International Society for Applied Ethology, an Editor for Applied Animal Behavior Science, a Special Topics section editor for the Journal of Animal Science, on the AAALAC Board of Trustees, on the SCAW Board of Trustees, on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Trichotillomania Learning Center, the Tourette Association of America, and the Beautiful You MRKH Foundation.

Academic Appointments

Honors & Awards

  • Henry Spira Memorial Lecture, In Recognition of Innovation and Achievement in the 3Rs, PRIM&R (2016)
  • Year of Learning, Great Teaching Showcase, Stanford University (2015)
  • 3Rs Prize (Highly Commended), NC3Rs and GlaxoSmithKline (2014)
  • Prize for exceptional science: for exceptional achievements in laboratory animal science, Swiss Society for Laboratory Animal Science (2013)
  • Pravin N. Bhatt Young Investigator Award, American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (2012)
  • Outstanding Faculty Mentor, Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation - Indiana (2011)
  • Early Achievement Award (Research), Poultry Science Association (2009)
  • Entrepreneurial Leadership Academy Scholar, Purdue University (2009)
  • Professor William Russell Fellowship, Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (2008-2011)
  • Entrepreneurial Leadership Academy, Purdue University (2008)
  • Professors For The Future Fellow, UC Davis (2001)
  • Honorary Senior Scholar, New College, Oxford University (1995-1999)
  • Gibbs Prize for Zoology, proxime accessit, Oxford University (1995)
  • Southern Field Prize, Biological Sciences, Oxford University (1995)

Community and International Work

  • Beautiful You MRKH Foundation



    Ongoing Project


    Opportunities for Student Involvement


  • Scientific Advisory Board, Tourette Syndrome Association


    Scientific Advisory Board Member

    Partnering Organization(s)

    Tourette Syndrome Association



    Ongoing Project


    Opportunities for Student Involvement


  • Scientific Advisory Board, Trichotillomania Learning Center


    Scientific Advisory Board Member

    Partnering Organization(s)

    Trichotillomania Learning Center



    Ongoing Project


    Opportunities for Student Involvement


  • Member of editorial board, Applied Animal Behaviour Science


    Member of editorial board

    Partnering Organization(s)

    Applied Animal Behaviour Science



    Ongoing Project


    Opportunities for Student Involvement


  • Editorial Board, Journal of Animal Science


    Member of editorial board (special topics section)

    Partnering Organization(s)

    Journal of Animal Science



    Ongoing Project


    Opportunities for Student Involvement


  • Governing Council, International Society for Applied Ethology


    Governing Council Member

    Partnering Organization(s)

    International Society for Applied Ethology



    Ongoing Project


    Opportunities for Student Involvement


  • ISAE representative on the AAALAC Board of Trustees


    Board of Trustees

    Partnering Organization(s)




    Ongoing Project


    Opportunities for Student Involvement


Current Research and Scholarly Interests

I am fundamentally interested in the positive and negative impacts of translation in human and animal well-being – including both “forward translation” from animal work to human outcomes, but also “reverse translation” from human measures and interventions to animals. For example, roughly 90% of drugs fail in translation, and the majority of these failures are due to a lack of efficacy. The financial, societal, and ethical costs of these failures are staggering. Accordingly, the overarching theme of my research is understanding why most drugs (and other basic science findings) fail to translate into human outcomes, the role that animal models and animal methodology play in in these failures, and in developing new approaches to improve the translation of animal research while also improving well-being. I am particularly interested in biomarker-based personalized medicine as a general solution, and much of my research program focuses on developing methodologies for biomarker-based animal models (e.g. biostatistics; individual differences in risk and response; animal housing, behavior and well-being; reverse-translated assays and automated instrumentation).

On the animal well-being side of my research, my work on the role of biostatistics and experimental design in improving both animal well-being and scientific outcomes includes a series of papers in Nature Methods, as well as papers in the MRC (UK) and the National Academies’ policy journals (NC3Rs Journal, and ILAR journal). We recently completed a long arc of work on the implementation and benefits (to science, well-being, and breeding) of nesting material for mice. Early papers in this program are referenced in new federal policy for mouse housing, and the body of work as a whole has won three major international awards. We are currently working on other major health and well-being issues in mice (particularly aggression and ulcerative dermatitis), including the first report of an effective treatment for ulcerative dermatitis. Our current NIH funding in this area is for the reverse-translation and validation of human measures of pain for use in mice, as a solution to the issues that current mouse measures of pain present for translational research.

I also work extensively in human health, both as a researcher and an advocate. My current human health research is focused on autism, trichotillomania and skin-picking. The question driving all of this work is “Why does one sibling become ill and another does not?”, and the goal is to identify biomarkers leading to screening, prevention and personalized treatment options. My early work in autism reverse-translated neuropsychological biomarkers of frontal executive function for use in mice and other animals, and established spontaneous stereotypies as a model of stereotypies (identical repetitive movements) in autism. My current work in autism (in collaboration with colleagues at Stanford, UCSF and UC Davis) is focused on biomarkers, genetic risk factors, and associated potential therapeutics targeting oxytocin and vasopressin and the relationship to social deficits in autistic patients and primate models. Trichotillomania and Skin Picking Disorder are extremely prevalent (trichotillomania affects approximately 3.5% of women), underserved, and hidden disorders, with severe impacts on life functioning and potentially life-threatening medical complications. My lab is the only lab working on animal models for either disorder. In mice we have identified underlying disease processes, biomarkers predictive of later onset, preventative interventions, and most recently, a novel and highly effective treatment (intranasal glutathione).

All Publications

  • Arginine vasopressin in cerebrospinal fluid is a marker of sociality in nonhuman primates SCIENCE TRANSLATIONAL MEDICINE Parker, K. J., Garner, J. P., Oztan, O., Tarara, E. R., Li, J., Sclafani, V., Del Rosso, L. A., Chun, K., Berquist, S. W., Chez, M. G., Partap, S., Hardan, A. Y., Sherr, E. H., Capitanio, J. P. 2018; 10 (439)


    Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by core social impairments. ASD remains poorly understood because of the difficulty in studying disease biology directly in patients and the reliance on mouse models that lack clinically relevant, complex social cognition abilities. We use ethological observations in rhesus macaques to identify male monkeys with naturally occurring low sociality. These monkeys showed differences in specific neuropeptide and kinase signaling pathways compared to socially competent male monkeys. Using a discovery and replication design, we identified arginine vasopressin (AVP) in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) as a key marker of group differences in monkey sociality; we replicated these findings in an independent monkey cohort. We also confirmed in an additional monkey cohort that AVP concentration in CSF is a stable trait-like measure. Next, we showed in a small pediatric cohort that CSF AVP concentrations were lower in male children with ASD compared to age-matched male children without ASD (but with other medical conditions). We demonstrated that CSF AVP concentration was sufficient to accurately distinguish ASD cases from medical controls. These data suggest that AVP and its signaling pathway warrant consideration in future research studies investigating new targets for diagnostics and drug development in ASD.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/scitranslmed.aam9100

    View details for Web of Science ID 000431415000001

    View details for PubMedID 29720452

  • Preventing, treating, and predicting barbering: A fundamental role for biomarkers of oxidative stress in a mouse model of Trichotillomania PLOS ONE Vieira, G. d., Lossie, A. C., Lay, D. C., Radcliffe, J. S., Garner, J. P. 2017; 12 (4)


    Barbering, where a "barber" mouse plucks hair from its cagemates or itself, is both a spontaneously occurring abnormal behavior in mice and a well validated model of Trichotillomania (TTM). N-Acetylcysteine, (NAC) a cysteine derived food additive, is remarkably effective in treating TTM patients, but its mechanism of action is unknown. Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), also known as free radicals, form as a natural byproduct of the normal metabolism of oxygen. Under normal circumstances, cells are able to defend themselves against ROS damage with antioxidant pathways. NAC is the precursor to the main antioxidant produced to defend the brain. Therefore, we hypothesized that barbering is a disease of oxidative stress, whereby ROS and/or a failure of antioxidant defenses leads to neuronal damage that induces barbering in susceptible animals. We tested this hypothesis in 32 female C57BL/6J mice by treating half with 1g/kg BW/day of NAC in their diet, and testing for protection against developing barbering behavior and curing of barbering behavior, and simultaneously testing for a panel of biomarkers of oxidative stress. NAC reduced the chance that mice would be barbers, and this effect did not differ between healthy (i.e. prevention) and affected animals (i.e. cure). Barbering animals had elevated urinary antioxidant capacity, indicative of oxidative stress, at all timepoints. Additionally, after treatment the risk of barbering increased with decreasing hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) levels, and with increasing glutathione (GSH) and oxidized glutathione (GSSG) levels, further indicating that barbering mice were under oxidative stress regardless of treatment with NAC. We did not find compelling evidence that urinary total antioxidant capacity, or urinary 8-OHdG, could predict response to NAC treatment. We conclude that NAC is effective in preventing and/or curing barbering at least in part by promoting GSH synthesis, thereby preventing oxidative damage.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0175222

    View details for Web of Science ID 000399875900023

    View details for PubMedID 28426681

  • Introducing Therioepistemology: the study of how knowledge is gained from animal research LAB ANIMAL Garner, J. P., Gaskill, B. N., Webers, E. M., Ahloy-Dallaire, J., Pritchett-Corning, K. R. 2017; 46 (4): 103-113


    This focus issue of Lab Animal coincides with a tipping point in biomedical research. For the first time, the scale of the reproducibility and translatability crisis is widely understood beyond the small cadre of researchers who have been studying it and the pharmaceutical and biotech companies who have been living it. Here we argue that an emerging literature, including the papers in this focus issue, has begun to congeal around a set of recurring themes, which themselves represent a paradigm shift. This paradigm shift can be characterized at the micro level as a shift from asking "what have we controlled for in this model?" to asking "what have we chosen to ignore in this model, and at what cost?" At the macro level, it is a shift from viewing animals as tools (the furry test tube), to viewing them as patients in an equivalent human medical study. We feel that we are witnessing the birth of a new discipline, which we term Therioepistemology, or the study of how knowledge is gained from animal research. In this paper, we outline six questions that serve as a heuristic for critically evaluating animal-based biomedical research from a therioepistemological perspective. These six questions sketch out the broad reaches of this new discipline, though they may change or be added to as this field evolves. Ultimately, by formalizing therioepistemology as a discipline, we can begin to discuss best practices that will improve the reproducibility and translatability of animal-based research, with concomitant benefits in terms of human health and animal well-being.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000398431900020

    View details for PubMedID 28328885

  • A "Pedi" Cures All: Toenail Trimming and the Treatment of Ulcerative Dermatitis in Mice PLOS ONE Adams, S. C., Garner, J. P., Felt, S. A., Geronimo, J. T., Chu, D. K. 2016; 11 (1)
  • Plasma oxytocin concentrations and OXTR polymorphisms predict social impairments in children with and without autism spectrum disorder PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Parker, K. J., Garner, J. P., Libove, R. A., Hyde, S. A., Hornbeak, K. B., Carson, D. S., Liao, C., Phillips, J. M., Hallmayer, J. F., Hardan, A. Y. 2014; 111 (33): 12258-12263


    The neuropeptide oxytocin (OXT) and its receptor (OXTR) regulate social functioning in animals and humans. Initial clinical research suggests that dysregulated plasma OXT concentrations and/or OXTR SNPs may be biomarkers of social impairments in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We do not know, however, whether OXT dysregulation is unique to ASD or whether OXT biology influences social functioning more generally, thus contributing to, but not causing, ASD phenotypes. To distinguish between these possibilities, we tested in a child ASD cohort, which included unaffected siblings and unrelated neurotypical controls (ages 3-12 y; n = 193), whether plasma OXT concentrations and OXTR SNPs (i) interact to produce ASD phenotypes, (ii) exert differential phenotypic effects in ASD vs. non-ASD children, or (iii) have similar phenotypic effects independent of disease status. In the largest cohort tested to date, we found no evidence to support the OXT deficit hypothesis of ASD. Rather, OXT concentrations strongly and positively predicted theory of mind and social communication performance in all groups. Furthermore, OXT concentrations showed significant heritability between ASD-discordant siblings (h(2) = 85.5%); a heritability estimate on par with that of height in humans. Finally, carriers of the "G" allele of rs53576 showed impaired affect recognition performance and carriers of the "A" allele of rs2254298 exhibited greater global social impairments in all groups. These findings indicate that OXT biology is not uniquely associated with ASD, but instead exerts independent, additive, and highly heritable influences on individual differences in human social functioning, including the severe social impairments which characterize ASD.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1402236111

    View details for Web of Science ID 000340438800080

    View details for PubMedID 25092315

  • The Significance of Meaning: Why Do Over 90% of Behavioral Neuroscience Results Fail to Translate to Humans, and What Can We Do to Fix It? ILAR JOURNAL Garner, J. P. 2014; 55 (3): 438-456


    The vast majority of drugs entering human trials fail. This problem (called "attrition") is widely recognized as a public health crisis, and has been discussed openly for the last two decades. Multiple recent reviews argue that animals may be just too different physiologically, anatomically, and psychologically from humans to be able to predict human outcomes, essentially questioning the justification of basic biomedical research in animals. This review argues instead that the philosophy and practice of experimental design and analysis is so different in basic animal work and human clinical trials that an animal experiment (as currently conducted) cannot reasonably predict the outcome of a human trial. Thus, attrition does reflect a lack of predictive validity of animal experiments, but it would be a tragic mistake to conclude that animal models cannot show predictive validity. A variety of contributing factors to poor validity are reviewed. The need to adopt methods and models that are highly specific (i.e., which can identify true negative results) in order to complement the current preponderance of highly sensitive methods (which are prone to false positive results) is emphasized. Concepts in biomarker-based medicine are offered as a potential solution, and changes in the use of animal models required to embrace a translational biomarker-based approach are outlined. In essence, this review advocates a fundamental shift, where we treat every aspect of an animal experiment that we can as if it was a clinical trial in a human population. However, it is unrealistic to expect researchers to adopt a new methodology that cannot be empirically justified until a successful human trial. "Validation with known failures" is proposed as a solution. Thus new methods or models can be compared against existing ones using a drug that has translated (a known positive) and one that has failed (a known negative). Current methods should incorrectly identify both as effective, but a more specific method should identify the negative compound correctly. By using a library of known failures we can thereby empirically test the impact of suggested solutions such as enrichment, controlled heterogenization, biomarker-based models, or reverse-translated measures.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/ilar/ilu047

    View details for Web of Science ID 000348058400008

    View details for PubMedID 25541546

  • Systematic variation improves reproducibility of animal experiments NATURE METHODS Richter, S. H., Garner, J. P., Auer, C., Kunert, J., Wuerbel, H. 2010; 7 (3): 167-168

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nmeth0310-167

    View details for Web of Science ID 000275058200003

    View details for PubMedID 20195246

  • Cerebrospinal fluid vasopressin and symptom severity in children with autism. Annals of neurology Oztan, O., Garner, J. P., Partap, S., Sherr, E. H., Hardan, A. Y., Farmer, C., Thurm, A., Swedo, S. E., Parker, K. J. 2018


    Autism is a brain disorder characterized by social impairments. Progress in understanding autism has been hindered by difficulty in obtaining brain-relevant tissues [e.g., cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)] by which to identify markers of disease and targets for treatment. Here we overcome this barrier by providing evidence that mean CSF concentration of the "social" neuropeptide arginine vasopressin (AVP) is lower in children with autism versus controls. CSF AVP concentration also significantly differentiates individual cases from controls and is associated with greater social symptom severity in children with autism. These findings indicate that AVP may be a promising CSF marker of autism's social deficits. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/ana.25314

    View details for PubMedID 30152888

  • Extensive Somatosensory and Motor Corticospinal Sprouting Occurs Following a Central Dorsal Column Lesion in Monkeys. The Journal of comparative neurology Fisher, K. M., Lilak, A., Garner, J., Darian-Smith, C. 2018


    The corticospinal tract (CST) forms the major descending pathway mediating voluntary hand movements in primates, and originates from nine cortical subdivisions in the macaque. While the terminals of spared motor CST axons are known to sprout locally within the cord in response to spinal injury, little is known about the response of the other CST subcomponents. We previously reported, that following a cervical dorsal root lesion (DRL), the primary somatosensory (S1) CST terminal projection retracts to 60% of its original terminal domain, while the primary motor (M1) projection remains robust (Darian-Smith et al., J. Neurosci., 2013). In contrast, when a dorsal column lesion (DCL) is added to the DRL, the S1 CST, in addition to the M1 CST, extends its terminal projections bilaterally and caudally, well beyond normal range (Darian-Smith et al., J. Neurosci., 2014). Are these dramatic responses linked entirely to the inclusion of a CNS injury (i.e. DCL), or do the two components summate or interact? We addressed this directly, by comparing data from monkeys that received a unilateral DCL alone, with those that received either a DRL or a combined DRL/DCL. Approximately four months post-lesion, the S1 hand region was mapped electrophysiologically, and anterograde tracers were injected bilaterally into the region deprived of normal input, to assess spinal terminal labeling. Using multifactorial analyses, we show that following a DCL alone (i.e. cuneate fasciculus), the S1 and M1 CSTs also sprout significantly and bilaterally beyond normal range, with a termination pattern suggesting some interaction between the peripheral and central lesions. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/cne.24491

    View details for PubMedID 30014461

  • Adaptive developmental plasticity in rhesus macaques: the serotonin transporter gene interacts with maternal care to affect juvenile social behaviour. Proceedings. Biological sciences Madrid, J. E., Mandalaywala, T. M., Coyne, S. P., Ahloy-Dallaire, J., Garner, J. P., Barr, C. S., Maestripieri, D., Parker, K. J. 2018; 285 (1881)


    Research has increasingly highlighted the role that developmental plasticity-the ability of a particular genotype to produce variable phenotypes in response to different early environments-plays as an adaptive mechanism. One of the most widely studied genetic contributors to developmental plasticity in humans and rhesus macaques is a serotonin transporter gene-linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR), which determines transcriptional efficiency of the serotonin transporter gene in vitro and modifies the availability of synaptic serotonin in these species. A majority of studies to date have shown that carriers of a loss-of-function variant of the 5-HTTLPR, the short (s) allele, develop a stress-reactive phenotype in response to adverse early environments compared with long (l) allele homozygotes, leading to the prevalent conceptualization of the s-allele as a vulnerability allele. However, this framework fails to address the independent evolution of these loss-of-function mutations in both humans and macaques as well as the high population prevalence of s-alleles in both species. Here we show in free-ranging rhesus macaques that s-allele carriers benefit more from supportive early social environments than l-allele homozygotes, such that s-allele carriers which receive higher levels of maternal protection during infancy demonstrate greater social competence later in life. These findings provide, to our knowledge, the first empirical support for the assertion that the s-allele grants high undirected biological sensitivity to context in primates and suggest a mechanism through which the 5-HTTLPR s-allele is maintained in primate populations.

    View details for DOI 10.1098/rspb.2018.0541

    View details for PubMedID 29925616

  • Plasma anandamide concentrations are lower in children with autism spectrum disorder MOLECULAR AUTISM Karhson, D. S., Krasinska, K. M., Dallaire, J., Libove, R. A., Phillips, J. M., Chien, A. S., Garner, J. P., Hardan, A. Y., Parker, K. J. 2018; 9: 18


    Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by restricted, stereotyped behaviors and impairments in social communication. Although the underlying biological mechanisms of ASD remain poorly understood, recent preclinical research has implicated the endogenous cannabinoid (or endocannabinoid), anandamide, as a significant neuromodulator in rodent models of ASD. Despite this promising preclinical evidence, no clinical studies to date have tested whether endocannabinoids are dysregulated in individuals with ASD. Here, we addressed this critical gap in knowledge by optimizing liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry methodology to quantitatively analyze anandamide concentrations in banked blood samples collected from a cohort of children with and without ASD (N = 112).Anandamide concentrations significantly differentiated ASD cases (N = 59) from controls (N = 53), such that children with lower anandamide concentrations were more likely to have ASD (p = 0.041). In keeping with this notion, anandamide concentrations were also significantly lower in ASD compared to control children (p = 0.034).These findings are the first empirical human data to translate preclinical rodent findings to confirm a link between plasma anandamide concentrations in children with ASD. Although preliminary, these data suggest that impaired anandamide signaling may be involved in the pathophysiology of ASD.

    View details for DOI 10.1186/s13229-018-0203-y

    View details for Web of Science ID 000427704800001

    View details for PubMedID 29564080

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5848550

  • Breaking up is hard to do: does splitting cages of mice reduce aggression? Applied Animal Behaviour Science Blankenberger, W. B., Weber, E. M., Chu, D. K., Geronimo, J. T., Theil, J., Gaskill, B. N., Pritchett-Corning, K., Albertelli, M. A., Garner, J. P., Ahloy-Dallaire, J. 2018; 206: 94-101
  • Biomarker Discovery for Social Impairments: Translation From a Novel Monkey Model to Patients With Autism Parker, K., Garner, J., Oztan, O., Tarara, E., Li, J., Sclafani, V., Del Rosso, L., Chun, K., Berquist, S., Chez, M., Partap, S., Hardan, A., Sherr, E., Capitanio, J. NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP. 2017: S501–S502
  • The effect of early life experience, environment, and genetic factors on spontaneous home-cage aggression-related wounding in male C57BL/6 mice LAB ANIMAL Gaskill, B. N., Stottler, A. M., Garner, J. P., Winnicker, C. W., Mulders, G. B., Pritchett-Corning, K. R. 2017; 46 (4): 176-184
  • Aggression in group-housed laboratory mice: why can't we solve the problem? LAB ANIMAL Webers, E. M., Dallaire, J. A., Gaskill, B. N., Pritchett-Corning, K. R., Garner, J. P. 2017; 46 (4): 157-161
  • Stressed out: providing laboratory animals with behavioral control to reduce the physiological effects of stress LAB ANIMAL Gaskill, B. N., Garner, J. P. 2017; 46 (4): 142-145


    Laboratory animals experience a large amount of environmental stress. An animal's environment can include both physiological and social stressors that may require an animal to adapt to maintain allostatic balance. For example, thermal stress can lead to changes in behavior, reproduction and immune function, which has been detrimental to cancer modeling in mice. Chronic uncontrollable stress is widely acknowledged for its negative alterations to physiology. However, there is a lack in the understanding of how the laboratory environment affects animal physiology and behavior, particularly as it relates to characteristics of the human disease being modeled. Given the evidence on how stressors affect physiology, it is clear that efforts to model human physiology in animal models must consider animal stress as a confounding factor. We present evidence illustrating that providing captive animals with control or predictability is the best way to reduce the negative physiological effects of these difficult-to-manage stressors.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000398431900025

    View details for PubMedID 28328902

  • The effect of early life experience, environment, and genetic factors on spontaneous home-cage aggression-related wounding in male C57BL/6 mice. Lab animal Gaskill, B. N., Stottler, A. M., Garner, J. P., Winnicker, C. W., Mulder, G. B., Pritchett-Corning, K. R. 2017; 46 (4): 176-184


    Aggression is a major welfare issue in mice, particularly when mice unfamiliar to each other are first placed in cages, as happens on receipt from a vendor, and following cage cleaning. Injuries from aggression are the second leading cause of unplanned euthanasia in mice, following ulcerative dermatitis. Commonly employed strategies for reducing aggression-related injury are largely anecdotal, and may even be counterproductive. Here we report a series of experiments testing potential explanations and interventions for post-shipping aggression-related injuries in C57BL/6 mice. First, we examined the effects of weaning: testing whether manipulating weaning age reduced aggression-related injuries, and if repeated mixing of weaned mice before shipping increased these injuries. Contrary to our predictions, repeated mixing did not increase post-shipping injurious aggression, and early weaning reduced aggression-related injuries. Second, we examined potential post-shipping interventions: testing whether lavender essential oil applied to the cage reduced aggression-related injuries, and whether a variety of enrichments decreased injurious aggression. Again, contrary to predictions, lavender increased wounding, and none of the enrichments reduced it. However, consistent with the effects of weaning age in the first experiment, cages with higher mean body weight showed elevated levels of aggression-related wounding. Finally, we tested whether C57BL/6 substrains and identification methods affected levels of intra-cage wounding from aggression. We found no effect of strain, but cages where mice were ear-notched for identification showed higher levels of wounding than cages where mice were tail-tattooed. Overall, these results emphasize the multifactorial nature of home-cage injurious aggression, and the importance of testing received wisdom when it comes to managing complex behavioral and welfare problems. In terms of practical recommendations to reduce aggressive wounding in the home cage, tail tattooing is recommended over ear notching and late weaning should be avoided.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/laban.1225

    View details for PubMedID 28328870

  • Aggression in group-housed laboratory mice: why can't we solve the problem? Lab animal Weber, E. M., Dallaire, J. A., Gaskill, B. N., Pritchett-Corning, K. R., Garner, J. P. 2017; 46 (4): 157-161


    Group housing is highly important for social animals. However, it can also give rise to aggression, one of the most serious welfare concerns in laboratory mouse husbandry. Severe fighting can lead to pain, injury and even death. In addition, working with animals that are severely socially stressed, wounded or singly-housed as a result of aggression may compromise scientific validity. Some general recommendations on how to minimize aggression exist, but the problem persists. Thus far, studies attempting to find solutions have mainly focused on social dominance and territorial behavior, but many other aspects of routine housing and husbandry that might influence aggressive behavior have been overlooked. The present way of housing laboratory mice is highly unnatural: mice are prevented from performing many species-typical behaviors and are routinely subjected to painful and aversive stimuli. Giving animals control over their environment is an important aspect of improving animal welfare and has been well-studied in the field of animal welfare science. How control over the environment influences aggression in laboratory mice, however, has not been closely examined. In this article, we challenge current ways of thinking and propose alternative perspectives that we hope will lead to an enhanced understanding of aggression in laboratory mice.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/laban.1219

    View details for PubMedID 28328884

  • Biomarker discovery for disease status and symptom severity in children with autism. Psychoneuroendocrinology Oztan, O., Jackson, L. P., Libove, R. A., Sumiyoshi, R. D., Phillips, J. M., Garner, J. P., Hardan, A. Y., Parker, K. J. 2017; 89: 39–45


    Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by social impairments and repetitive behaviors, and affects 1 in 68 US children. Despite ASD's societal impact, its disease mechanisms remain poorly understood. Recent preclinical ASD biomarker discovery research has implicated the neuropeptides oxytocin (OXT) and arginine vasopressin (AVP), and their receptors, OXTR and AVPR1A, in animal models. Efforts to translate these findings to individuals with ASD have typically involved evaluating single neuropeptide measures as biomarkers of ASD and/or behavioral functioning. Given that ASD is a heterogeneous disorder, and unidimensional ASD biomarker studies have been challenging to reproduce, here we employed a multidimensional neuropeptide biomarker analysis to more powerfully interrogate disease status and symptom severity in a well characterized child cohort comprised of ASD patients and neurotypical controls. These blood-based neuropeptide measures, considered as a whole, correctly predicted disease status for 57 out of 68 (i.e., 84%) participants. Further analysis revealed that a composite measure of OXTR and AVPR1A gene expression was the key driver of group classification, and that children with ASD had lower neuropeptide receptor mRNA levels compared to controls. Lower neuropeptide receptor mRNA levels also predicted greater symptom severity for core ASD features (i.e., social impairments and stereotyped behaviors), but were unrelated to intellectual impairment, an associated feature of ASD. Findings from this research highlight the value of assessing multiple related biological measures, and their relative contributions, in the same study, and suggest that low blood neuropeptide receptor availability may be a promising biomarker of disease presence and symptom severity in ASD.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2017.12.022

    View details for PubMedID 29309996

  • Preference for novel faces in male infant monkeys predicts cerebrospinal fluid oxytocin concentrations later in life. Scientific Reports Madrid, J. E., Oztan, O., Sclafani, V., Del Rosso, L. A., Calonder, L. A., Chun, K., Capitanio, J. P., Garner, J. P., Parker, K. J. 2017: 12935


    The ability to recognize individuals is a critical skill acquired early in life for group living species. In primates, individual recognition occurs predominantly through face discrimination. Despite the essential adaptive value of this ability, robust individual differences in conspecific face recognition exist, yet its associated biology remains unknown. Although pharmacological administration of oxytocin has implicated this neuropeptide in face perception and social memory, no prior research has tested the relationship between individual differences in face recognition and endogenous oxytocin concentrations. Here we show in a male rhesus monkey cohort (N = 60) that infant performance in a task used to determine face recognition ability (specifically, the ability of animals to show a preference for a novel face) robustly predicts cerebrospinal fluid, but not blood, oxytocin concentrations up to five years after behavioural assessment. These results argue that central oxytocin biology may be related to individual face perceptual abilities necessary for group living, and that these differences are stable traits.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41598-017-13109-5

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5636831

  • He's getting under my skin! Comparing the sensitivity and specificity of dermal vs subcuticular lesions as a measure of aggression in mice APPLIED ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR SCIENCE Gaskill, B. N., Stottler, A., Pritchett-Corning, K. R., Wong, L. K., Geronimo, J., Garner, J. P. 2016; 183: 77-85
  • Two of a Kind or a Full House? Reproductive Suppression and Alloparenting in Laboratory Mice PLOS ONE Garner, J. P., Gaskill, B. N., Pritchett-Corning, K. R. 2016; 11 (5)


    Alloparenting, a behavior in which individuals other than the actual parents act in a parental role, is seen in many mammals, including house mice. In wild house mice, alloparental care is only seen when familiar sibling females simultaneously immigrate to a male's territory, so in the laboratory, when a pair of unfamiliar female wild mice are mated with a male, alloparenting does not occur because one female will typically be reproductively suppressed. In contrast, laboratory mice are assumed to alloparent regardless of familiarity or relatedness and are therefore routinely trio bred to increase productivity. Empirical evidence supporting the presence of alloparental care in laboratory mice is lacking. Albino and pigmented inbred mice of the strain C57BL/6NCrl (B6) and outbred mice of the stock Crl:CF1 (CF1) were used to investigate alloparenting in laboratory mice since by mating pigmented and albino females with albino males of the same stock or strain, maternal parentage was easily determined. We housed pairs (M:F) or trios (M:2F) of mice in individually ventilated cages containing nesting material and followed reproductive performance for 16 weeks. Females in trios were tested to determine dominance at the start of the experiment, and again 5 days after the birth of a litter to determine if a female's dominance shifted with the birth of pups. Results showed a significant and expected difference in number of offspring produced by B6 and CF1 (p < 0.0001). Pigmented mice nursed and nested with albino pups and vice-versa, confirming empirical observations from many that group nesting and alloparenting occurs in unrelated laboratory mice. When overall production of both individual mice and cages was examined, reproductive suppression was seen in trio cages. Dominance testing with the tube test did not correlate female reproduction with female dominance in a female-female dyad. Due to the reproductive suppression noted in trios, on a per-mouse basis, pair mating outperformed trio mating (p = 0.02) when the measure was weaned pups/female/week. No infanticide was seen in any cages, so the mechanism of reproductive suppression in trio matings may occur before birth.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0154966

    View details for Web of Science ID 000375676800103

    View details for PubMedID 27148872

  • Early Predictors of Impaired Social Functioning in Male Rhesus Macaques (Macaca mulatta). PloS one Sclafani, V., Del Rosso, L. A., Seil, S. K., Calonder, L. A., Madrid, J. E., Bone, K. J., Sherr, E. H., Garner, J. P., Capitanio, J. P., Parker, K. J. 2016; 11 (10)


    Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by social cognition impairments but its basic disease mechanisms remain poorly understood. Progress has been impeded by the absence of animal models that manifest behavioral phenotypes relevant to ASD. Rhesus monkeys are an ideal model organism to address this barrier to progress. Like humans, rhesus monkeys are highly social, possess complex social cognition abilities, and exhibit pronounced individual differences in social functioning. Moreover, we have previously shown that Low-Social (LS) vs. High-Social (HS) adult male monkeys exhibit lower social motivation and poorer social skills. It is not known, however, when these social deficits first emerge. The goals of this study were to test whether juvenile LS and HS monkeys differed as infants in their ability to process social information, and whether infant social abilities predicted later social classification (i.e., LS vs. HS), in order to facilitate earlier identification of monkeys at risk for poor social outcomes. Social classification was determined for N = 25 LS and N = 25 HS male monkeys that were 1-4 years of age. As part of a colony-wide assessment, these monkeys had previously undergone, as infants, tests of face recognition memory and the ability to respond appropriately to conspecific social signals. Monkeys later identified as LS vs. HS showed impairments in recognizing familiar vs. novel faces and in the species-typical adaptive ability to gaze avert to scenes of conspecific aggression. Additionally, multivariate logistic regression using infant social ability measures perfectly predicted later social classification of all N = 50 monkeys. These findings suggest that an early capacity to process important social information may account for differences in rhesus monkeys' motivation and competence to establish and maintain social relationships later in life. Further development of this model will facilitate identification of novel biological targets for intervention to improve social outcomes in at-risk young monkeys.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0165401

    View details for PubMedID 27788195

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5082922

  • Cerebrospinal fluid and plasma oxytocin concentrations are positively correlated and negatively predict anxiety in children MOLECULAR PSYCHIATRY Carson, D. S., Berquist, S. W., Trujillo, T. H., Garner, J. P., Hannah, S. L., Hyde, S. A., Sumiyoshi, R. D., Jackson, L. P., MOSS, J. K., Strehlow, M. C., Cheshier, S. H., Partap, S., Hardan, A. Y., Parker, K. J. 2015; 20 (9): 1085-1090


    The neuropeptide oxytocin (OXT) exerts anxiolytic and prosocial effects in the central nervous system of rodents. A number of recent studies have attempted to translate these findings by investigating the relationships between peripheral (e.g., blood, urinary and salivary) OXT concentrations and behavioral functioning in humans. Although peripheral samples are easy to obtain in humans, whether peripheral OXT measures are functionally related to central OXT activity remains unclear. To investigate a possible relationship, we quantified OXT concentrations in concomitantly collected cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and blood samples from child and adult patients undergoing clinically indicated lumbar punctures or other CSF-related procedures. Anxiety scores were obtained in a subset of child participants whose parents completed psychometric assessments. Findings from this study indicate that plasma OXT concentrations significantly and positively predict CSF OXT concentrations (r=0.56, P=0.0064, N=27). Moreover, both plasma (r=-0.92, P=0.0262, N=10) and CSF (r=-0.91, P=0.0335, N=10) OXT concentrations significantly and negatively predicted trait anxiety scores, consistent with the preclinical literature. Importantly, plasma OXT concentrations significantly and positively (r=0.96, P=0.0115, N=10) predicted CSF OXT concentrations in the subset of child participants who provided behavioral data. This study provides the first empirical support for the use of blood measures of OXT as a surrogate for central OXT activity, validated in the context of behavioral functioning. These preliminary findings also suggest that impaired OXT signaling may be a biomarker of anxiety in humans, and a potential target for therapeutic development in individuals with anxiety disorders.Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication, 4 November 2014; doi:10.1038/mp.2014.132.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/mp.2014.132

    View details for Web of Science ID 000360175500009

  • Arginine Vasopressin Is a Blood-Based Biomarker of Social Functioning in Children with Autism PLOS ONE Carson, D. S., Garner, J. P., Hyde, S. A., Libove, R. A., Berquist, S. W., Hornbeak, K. B., Jackson, L. P., Sumiyoshi, R. D., Howerton, C. L., Hannah, S. L., Partap, S., Phillips, J. M., Hardan, A. Y., Parker, K. J. 2015; 10 (7)


    Brain arginine vasopressin (AVP) critically regulates normative social behavior in mammals, and experimental disruption of the AVP signaling pathway produces social impairments in rodent models. We therefore hypothesized that AVP signaling deficits may contribute to social impairments in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Since blood measures (which are far easier to obtain than brain measures) of AVP are most meaningful if they are related to brain AVP activity, Study 1 tested the relationship between AVP concentrations in concomitantly collected blood and CSF samples from children and adults (N = 28) undergoing clinical procedures. Study 2 tested whether blood AVP concentrations: 1) differed between children with ASD (N = 57), their ASD discordant siblings (N = 47), and neurotypical controls (N = 55); and 2) predicted social functioning (using the NEPSY-II Theory of Mind and Affect Recognition tasks and the Social Responsiveness Scale) in this large, well-characterized child cohort. Blood AVP concentrations significantly and positively predicted CSF AVP concentrations (F1,26 = 7.17, r = 0.46, p = 0.0127) in Study 1. In Study 2, blood AVP concentrations did not differ between groups or by sex, but significantly and positively predicted Theory of Mind performance, specifically in children with ASD, but not in non-ASD children (F1,144 = 5.83, p = 0.017). Blood AVP concentrations can be used: 1) as a surrogate for brain AVP activity in humans; and 2) as a robust biomarker of theory of mind ability in children with ASD. These findings also suggest that AVP biology may be a promising therapeutic target by which to improve social cognition in individuals with ASD.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0132224

    View details for Web of Science ID 000358597100030

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4511760

  • Antioxidant Therapies for Ulcerative Dermatitis: A Potential Model for Skin Picking Disorder PLOS ONE George, N. M., Whitaker, J., Vieira, G., Geronimo, J. T., Bellinger, D. A., Fletcher, C. A., Garner, J. P. 2015; 10 (7)
  • An initial investigation into the effects of isolation and enrichment on the welfare of laboratory pigs housed in the PigTurn (R) system, assessed using tear staining, behaviour, physiology and haematology ANIMAL WELFARE DeBoer, S. P., Garner, J. P., McCain, R. R., Lay, D. C., Eicher, S. D., Marchant-Forde, J. N. 2015; 24 (1): 15-27
  • Plasma vasopressin concentrations positively predict cerebrospinal fluid vasopressin concentrations in human neonates. Peptides Carson, D. S., Howerton, C. L., Garner, J. P., Hyde, S. A., Clark, C. L., Hardan, A. Y., Penn, A. A., Parker, K. J. 2014; 61: 12-16


    Central arginine vasopressin (AVP) plays a critical role in mammalian social behavior and has been hypothesized to be a biomarker of certain human neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism. However, opportunities to collect post-mortem brain tissue or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from children are extremely limited, and the use of less invasive peripheral assessments (e.g., blood, urine, or saliva) of AVP as a proxy for more invasive central measures has not been well validated. Further, almost nothing is known about AVP biology in very young infants. Therefore in the present study we concomitantly collected basal CSF and plasma samples from N=20 neonates undergoing clinical sepsis evaluation (all were sepsis negative) and quantified AVP concentrations via well-validated enzyme-immunoassay methodology. Plasma AVP concentrations significantly and positively predicted CSF AVP concentrations (r=0.73, p=0.0021), and this relationship persisted when variance attributed to sex, gestational age, and sample collection time was controlled for in the statistical model (r=0.75, p=0.0047). These findings provide preliminary support for the use of basal plasma AVP measurement as a proxy for basal brain AVP activity in pediatric populations. Future studies are now required to determine the relationship between behavioral measures and AVP concentrations in both central and peripheral compartments in young infants and older children.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.peptides.2014.08.003

    View details for PubMedID 25148831

  • Plasma vasopressin concentrations positively predict cerebrospinal fluid vasopressin concentrations in human neonates PEPTIDES Carson, D. S., Howerton, C. L., Garner, J. P., Hyde, S. A., Clark, C. L., Hardan, A. Y., Penn, A. A., Parker, K. J. 2014; 61: 12-16
  • The effect of perch availability during pullet rearing and egg laying on the behavior of caged White Leghorn hens POULTRY SCIENCE Hester, P. Y., Garner, J. P., Enneking, S. A., Cheng, H. W., Einstein, M. E. 2014; 93 (10): 2423-2431


    Enriched cages, compared with conventional cages, allow egg laying strains of chickens to meet some behavioral needs, including a high motivation to perch. The objective of this study was to determine if perch availability during rearing affected perch use as adults and if perch presence affected eating and drinking in caged White Leghorn hens. Chickens were assigned to 14 cages each with and without 2 round metal perches from hatch to 16.9 wk of age. At 17 wk of age, pullets were assigned to laying cages consisting of 1 of 4 treatments. Treatment 1 chickens never had access to perches (controls). Treatment 2 chickens only had access to 2 round metal perches during the laying phase (17 to 71 wk of age). Treatment 3 chickens only had access to 2 round perches during the pullet phase (0 to 16.9 wk of age). Treatment 4 chickens had access to the perches during both the pullet and laying phase. Each treatment during the adult phase consisted of 9 cages with 9 birds/cage for a total of 36 cages. Automatic infrared cameras were used to monitor behavior of hens in each cage for a 24-h period at 19, 24, 29, 34, 39, 44, 49, 54, 59, 64, and 69 wk of age. Behavior was also recorded twice weekly by an observer in the room where the hens were housed during photophase from 25 to 68 wk of age. Behavioral data were analyzed using ANOVA with repeated measures and the MIXED model procedure. A greater proportion of hens without perches as pullets used the rear perch more during both photophase and scotophase than hens with prior pullet perching experience. Eating and drinking activities of caged adult Leghorns were not impaired by their prior experience to perches as pullets or by the presence of perches in laying cages. It is concluded that providing perches in cages to White Leghorns during pullet rearing did not facilitate use of perches as adults.

    View details for DOI 10.3382/ps.2014-04038

    View details for Web of Science ID 000343697800001

    View details for PubMedID 25125558

  • Corticospinal Sprouting Differs According to Spinal Injury Location and Cortical Origin in Macaque Monkeys JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE Darian-Smith, C., Lilak, A., Garner, J., Irvine, K. 2014; 34 (37): 12267-12279
  • Corticospinal sprouting differs according to spinal injury location and cortical origin in macaque monkeys. journal of neuroscience Darian-Smith, C., Lilak, A., Garner, J., Irvine, K. 2014; 34 (37): 12267-12279


    The primate corticospinal tract (CST), the major descending pathway mediating voluntary hand movements, comprises nine or more functional subdivisions. The role of subcomponents other than that from primary motor cortex, however, is not well understood. We have previously shown that following a cervical dorsal rhizotomy (Darian-Smith et al., 2013), CST projections originating from primary somatosensory (S1) and motor (M1) cortex responded quite differently to injury. Terminal projections from the S1 (areas 3b/1/2) shrank to <60% of the contralateral side, while M1 CST projections remained robust or expanded (>110%). Here, we asked what happens when a central lesion is added to the equation, to better simulate clinical injury. Monkeys (n = 6) received either a unilateral (1) dorsal root lesion (DRL), (2) or a combined DRL/dorsal column lesion (DRL/DCL), or (3) a DRL/DCL where the DCL was made 4 months following the initial DRL. Electrophysiological recordings were made in S1 4 months postlesion in the first two groups, and 6 weeks after the DCL in the third lesion group, to identify the reorganized region of D1-D3 (thumb, index finger, and middle finger) representation. Anterograde tracers were then injected bilaterally to assess spinal terminal labeling. Remarkably, in all DRL/DCL animals, terminal projections from the S1 and M1 extended bilaterally and caudally well beyond terminal territories in normal animals or following a DRL. These data were highly significant. Extensive sprouting from the S1 CST has not been reported previously, and these data raise important questions about S1 CST involvement in recovery following spinal injury.

    View details for DOI 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1593-14.2014

    View details for PubMedID 25209269

  • Letter-to-the-editor on "Not so hot: Optimal housing temperatures for mice to mimic the thermal environment of humans". Molecular metabolism Gaskill, B. N., Garner, J. P. 2014; 3 (4): 335-336

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.molmet.2013.05.003

    View details for PubMedID 24944886

  • Plasma oxytocin concentrations are lower in depressed vs. healthy control women and are independent of cortisol. Journal of psychiatric research Yuen, K. W., Garner, J. P., Carson, D. S., Keller, J., Lembke, A., Hyde, S. A., Kenna, H. A., Tennakoon, L., Schatzberg, A. F., Parker, K. J. 2014; 51: 30-36


    The neuropeptide oxytocin (OT) promotes social behavior and attenuates stress responsivity in mammals. Recent clinical evidence suggests OT concentrations may be dysregulated in major depression. This study extends previous research by testing whether: 1) OT concentrations vary systematically in depressive disorders with and without hypercortisolemia, 2) gender differences in OT concentrations are observed in depressed vs. healthy control participants, and 3) OT concentrations are predictive of clinical phenotypes. Plasma OT concentrations of psychotic major depressive (PMD; n = 14: 10 female, 4 male), non-psychotic major depressive (NPMD; n = 17: 12 female, 5 male), and non-depressed, healthy control (n = 19: 11 female, 8 male) participants were assayed at 2000, 2400, 0400, and 0800 h. Plasma cortisol concentrations were quantified at 2300 h, and clinical phenotypes were determined. As expected, PMD participants, compared to NPMD and healthy control participants, showed higher plasma cortisol concentrations. Although both depressed groups showed similar OT concentrations, a significant interaction effect between group and gender was observed. Specifically, depressed females exhibited lower mean OT concentrations than depressed males. Further, depressed vs. healthy control female participants exhibited lower mean OT concentrations, whereas depressed vs. healthy control male participants showed a trend in the opposite direction. OT concentrations were also predictive of desirability, drug dependence, and compulsivity scores as measured by the Million Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-III. All findings were independent of cortisol. These data suggest that OT signaling may provide a mechanism by which to better understand female-biased risk to develop depressive disorders and that plasma OT concentrations may be a useful biomarker of certain clinical phenotypes.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2013.12.012

    View details for PubMedID 24405552

  • An automated maze task for assessing hippocampus-sensitive memory in mice BEHAVIOURAL BRAIN RESEARCH Pioli, E. Y., Gaskill, B. N., Gilmour, G., Tricklebank, M. D., Dix, S. L., Bannerman, D., Garner, J. P. 2014; 261: 249-257


    Memory deficits associated with hippocampal dysfunction are a key feature of a number of neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders. The discrete-trial rewarded alternation T-maze task is highly sensitive to hippocampal dysfunction. Normal mice have spontaneously high levels of alternation, whereas hippocampal-lesioned mice are dramatically impaired. However, this is a hand-run task and handling has been shown to impact crucially on behavioural responses, as well as being labour-intensive and therefore unsuitable for high-throughput studies. To overcome this, a fully automated maze was designed. The maze was attached to the mouse's home cage and the subject earned all of its food by running through the maze. In this study the hippocampal dependence of rewarded alternation in the automated maze was assessed. Bilateral hippocampal-lesioned mice were assessed in the standard, hand-run, discrete-trial rewarded alternation paradigm and in the automated paradigm, according to a cross-over design. A similarly robust lesion effect on alternation performance was found in both mazes, confirming the sensitivity of the automated maze to hippocampal lesions. Moreover, the performance of the animals in the automated maze was not affected by their handling history whereas performance in the hand-run maze was affected by prior testing history. By having more stable performance and by decreasing human contact the automated maze may offer opportunities to reduce extraneous experimental variation and therefore increase the reproducibility within and/or between laboratories. Furthermore, automation potentially allows for greater experimental throughput and hence suitability for use in assessment of cognitive function in drug discovery.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.bbr.2013.12.009

    View details for Web of Science ID 000331497000031

    View details for PubMedID 24333574

  • Nest Building as an Indicator of Health and Welfare in Laboratory Mice JOVE-JOURNAL OF VISUALIZED EXPERIMENTS Gaskill, B. N., Karas, A. Z., Garner, J. P., Pritchett-Corning, K. R. 2013

    View details for DOI 10.3791/51012

    View details for Web of Science ID 000209229000057

  • Can seeds help mice with the daily grind? LABORATORY ANIMALS Pritchett-Corning, K. R., Keefe, R., Garner, J. P., Gaskill, B. N. 2013; 47 (4): 312-315


    Some laboratory mice gnaw food pellets without ingesting much of the gnawed material, resulting in the production of waste material called 'orts'. The fact that this food grinding behavior is not seen in all individuals of a particular strain suggests that it might be abnormal, and thus indicate a welfare concern. Furthermore, the increased rate of feed consumption and cage soiling is undesirable from a husbandry perspective. To try to determine possible motivations for the behavior, and identify potential treatments, outbred Crl:CD1(Icr) mice exhibiting food grinding were selected for one of three treatments placed in the feeder: no enrichment, a chewing device, or sunflower seeds. Both enrichment groups showed a significant decrease (P < 0.05) in ort production when compared with baseline measurements, but only mice provided with sunflower seeds maintained the decreased rate of food wastage after the treatment was withdrawn. A relationship between body weight and ort production was also found, in that cages with greater average body weights had lower levels of ort production. This suggests that a simple need to gnaw cannot alone explain food grinding, and that a nutritional motivation may also be involved.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/0023677213491403

    View details for Web of Science ID 000324486100011

    View details for PubMedID 23760566

  • The World is a Natural Laboratory, and Social Media is the New Petri Dish ETHOLOGY Rault, J., Elmore, M. R., Biehl, D. J., Russell, M. A., Garner, J. P. 2013; 119 (10): 803-806

    View details for DOI 10.1111/eth.12125

    View details for Web of Science ID 000323729900002

  • Prenatal stress puzzle, the oxytocin piece: Prenatal stress alters the behaviour and autonomic regulation in piglets, insights from oxytocin APPLIED ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR SCIENCE Rault, J., Mack, L. A., Carter, C. S., Garner, J. P., Marchant-Forde, J. N., Richert, B. T., Lay, D. C. 2013; 148 (1-2): 99-107
  • Winning the Genetic Lottery: Biasing Birth Sex Ratio Results in More Grandchildren PLOS ONE Thogerson, C. M., Brady, C. M., Howard, R. D., Mason, G. J., Pajor, E. A., Vicino, G. A., Garner, J. P. 2013; 8 (7)


    Population dynamics predicts that on average parents should invest equally in male and female offspring; similarly, the physiology of mammalian sex determination is supposedly stochastic, producing equal numbers of sons and daughters. However, a high quality parent can maximize fitness by biasing their birth sex ratio (SR) to the sex with the greatest potential to disproportionately outperform peers. All SR manipulation theories share a fundamental prediction: grandparents who bias birth SR should produce more grandoffspring via the favored sex. The celebrated examples of biased birth SRs in nature consistent with SR manipulation theories provide compelling circumstantial evidence. However, this prediction has never been directly tested in mammals, primarily because the complete three-generation pedigrees needed to test whether individual favored offspring produce more grandoffspring for the biasing grandparent are essentially impossible to obtain in nature. Three-generation pedigrees were constructed using 90 years of captive breeding records from 198 mammalian species. Male and female grandparents consistently biased their birth SR toward the sex that maximized second-generation success. The most strongly male-biased granddams and grandsires produced respectively 29% and 25% more grandoffspring than non-skewing conspecifics. The sons of the most male-biasing granddams were 2.7 times as fecund as those of granddams with a 50∶50 bias (similar results are seen in grandsires). Daughters of the strongest female-biasing granddams were 1.2 times as fecund as those of non-biasing females (this effect is not seen in grandsires). To our knowledge, these results are the first formal test of the hypothesis that birth SR manipulation is adaptive in mammals in terms of grandchildren produced, showing that SR manipulation can explain biased birth SR in general across mammalian species. These findings also have practical implications: parental control of birth SR has the potential to accelerate genetic loss and risk of extinction within captive populations of endangered species.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0067867

    View details for Web of Science ID 000321765300015

    View details for PubMedID 23874458

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3707872

  • Reply to: "Reanalysis of Richter et al. (2010) on reproducibility". Nature methods Würbel, H., Richter, S. H., Garner, J. P. 2013; 10 (5): 374-?

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nmeth.2446

    View details for PubMedID 23629412

  • Repeated intranasal oxytocin administration in early life dysregulates the HPA axis and alters social behavior. Physiology & behavior Rault, J., Carter, C. S., Garner, J. P., Marchant-Forde, J. N., Richert, B. T., Lay, D. C. 2013; 112-113: 40-48


    Agonistic interactions are a powerful stressor. Conversely, positive social interactions can reduce the adverse effects of social stress. This possibly occurs through the action of oxytocin (OT), a neuropeptide able to reduce activation of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. We hypothesized that repeated OT intranasal administration to neonatal pigs could provide long-lasting protective effects against social stress. In each of six litters, two pigs per litter received 0.5 mL of saline containing 24 IU (or 50 μg) of OT intranasally and two control littermates received 0.5 mL of saline as a control at 1, 2 and 3 days of age. Contrary to our predictions, when socially mixed after weaning at 17 days of age, neonatally OT-administered pigs received more aggressive interactions and performed more aggressive interactions in return, showed greater locomotion, spent less time in social contact, and had greater cortisol concentrations than control pigs. When this social mixing was repeated at 8 weeks of age, OT pigs still performed more aggressive interactions and had greater adrenocorticotropic hormone concentrations than control pigs. A dexamethasone suppression test and corticotropic releasing hormone administration challenge at 11 weeks of age revealed that OT pigs were less responsive to dexamethasone than control pigs, suggesting a deficient HPA axis' negative feedback control. Postnatal repeated OT administration altered social behavior and resulted in a long-term dysregulation of the HPA axis. These findings highlight the complex, fine-tuning of the neurobiological mechanisms regulating the development of social behavior and suggest caution in the application of neonatal peptide treatments during early development.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.physbeh.2013.02.007

    View details for PubMedID 23481917

  • Repeated intranasal oxytocin administration in early life dysregulates the HPA axis and alters social behavior PHYSIOLOGY & BEHAVIOR Rault, J., Carter, C. S., Garner, J. P., Marchant-Forde, J. N., Richert, B. T., Lay, D. C. 2013; 112: 40-48
  • Impact of nesting material on mouse body temperature and physiology. Physiology & behavior Gaskill, B. N., Gordon, C. J., Pajor, E. A., Lucas, J. R., Davis, J. K., Garner, J. P. 2013; 110-111: 87-95


    In laboratories, mice are housed at 20-24 °C, which is below their lower critical temperature (≈30 °C). Thus, mice are potentially cold stressed, which can alter metabolism, immune function, and reproduction. These physiological changes reflect impaired wellbeing, and affect scientific outcomes. We hypothesized that nesting material would allow mice to alleviate cold stress by controlling their thermal microenvironment, thus insulating them, reducing heat loss and thermogenic processes. Naïve C57BL/6, CD-1, and BALB/c mice (24 male and 24 female/strain in groups of 3) were housed in standard cages at 20 °C either with or without 8 g nesting material for 4 weeks. Core body temperature was followed using intraperitoneal radio telemetry. The thermal properties of the nests were assessed using a thermal imaging camera, and related to nest quality. Higher scoring nests were negatively correlated with the mean radiated temperature and were thus more insulating. No effects of nesting material on body temperature were found. CD-1 mice with nesting material had higher end body weights than controls. No effect was seen in the other two strains. Mice with the telemetry implant had larger spleens than controls, possibly indicating an immune response to the implant or low level infection from the surgery. BALB/c mice express less mRNA for the UCP1 protein than mice without nesting material. This indicates that BALB/c's with nesting material do not utilize their brown fat to create heat as readily as controls. Nests can alleviate thermal discomfort by decreasing the amount of radiated heat and reduce the need for non-shivering thermogenesis. However, different strains appear to use different behavioral (through different primary modes of behavioral thermoregulation) and physiological strategies (utilizing thermogenesis to different degrees) to maintain a constant body temperature under cool standard laboratory ambient temperatures.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.physbeh.2012.12.018

    View details for PubMedID 23313562

  • Impact of nesting material on mouse body temperature and physiology PHYSIOLOGY & BEHAVIOR Gaskill, B. N., Gordon, C. J., Pajor, E. A., Lucas, J. R., Davis, J. K., Garner, J. P. 2013; 110: 87-95
  • Biology, behavior, and environmental enrichment for the captive African clawed frog (Xenopus spp) APPLIED ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR SCIENCE Chum, H., Felt, S., Garner, J., Green, S. 2013; 143 (2-4): 150-156
  • Nest building as an indicator of health and welfare in laboratory mice. Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE Gaskill, B. N., Karas, A. Z., Garner, J. P., Pritchett-Corning, K. R. 2013: 51012-?


    The minimization and alleviation of suffering has moral and scientific implications. In order to mitigate this negative experience one must be able to identify when an animal is actually in distress. Pain, illness, or distress cannot be managed if unrecognized. Evaluation of pain or illness typically involves the measurement of physiologic and behavioral indicators which are either invasive or not suitable for large scale assessment. The observation of nesting behavior shows promise as the basis of a species appropriate cage-side assessment tool for recognizing distress in mice. Here we demonstrate the utility of nest building behavior in laboratory mice as an ethologically relevant indicator of welfare. The methods presented can be successfully used to identify thermal stressors, aggressive cages, sickness, and pain. Observation of nest building behavior in mouse colonies provides a refinement to health and well-being assessment on a day to day basis.

    View details for DOI 10.3791/51012

    View details for PubMedID 24429701

  • Energy Reallocation to Breeding Performance through Improved Nest Building in Laboratory Mice. PloS one Gaskill, B. N., Pritchett-Corning, K. R., Gordon, C. J., Pajor, E. A., Lucas, J. R., Davis, J. K., Garner, J. P. 2013; 8 (9)


    Mice are housed at temperatures (20-26°C) that increase their basal metabolic rates and impose high energy demands to maintain core temperatures. Therefore, energy must be reallocated from other biological processes to increase heat production to offset heat loss. Supplying laboratory mice with nesting material may provide sufficient insulation to reduce heat loss and improve both feed conversion and breeding performance. Naïve C57BL/6, BALB/c, and CD-1breeding pairs were provided with bedding alone, or bedding supplemented with either 8g of Enviro-Dri, 8g of Nestlets, for 6 months. Mice provided with either nesting material built more dome-like nests than controls. Nesting material improved feed efficiency per pup weaned as well as pup weaning weight. The breeding index (pups weaned/dam/week) was higher when either nesting material was provided. Thus, the sparing of energy for thermoregulation of mice given additional nesting material may have been responsible for the improved breeding and growth of offspring.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0074153

    View details for PubMedID 24040193

  • The naked truth: Breeding performance in nude mice with and without nesting material APPLIED ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR SCIENCE Gaskill, B. N., Winnicker, C., Garner, J. P., Pritchett-Corning, K. R. 2013; 143 (2-4): 110-116
  • Does the presence of a human affect the preference of enrichment items in young, isolated pigs? APPLIED ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR SCIENCE DeBoer, S. P., Garner, J. P., Lay, D. C., Eicher, S. D., Lucas, J. R., Marchant-Forde, J. N. 2013; 143 (2-4): 96-103
  • ENU mutagenesis reveals that Notchless homolog 1 (Drosophila) affects Cdkn1a and several members of the Wnt pathway during murine pre-implantation development BMC GENETICS Lossie, A. C., Lo, C., Baumgarner, K. M., Cramer, M. J., Garner, J. P., Justice, M. J. 2012; 13


    Our interests lie in determining the genes and genetic pathways that are important for establishing and maintaining maternal-fetal interactions during pregnancy. Mutation analysis targeted to a 34 Mb domain flanked by Trp53 and Wnt3 demonstrates that this region of mouse chromosome 11 contains a large number of essential genes. Two mutant alleles (l11Jus1 and l11Jus4), which fall into the same complementation group, survive through implantation but fail prior to gastrulation.Through a positional cloning strategy, we discovered that these homozygous mutant alleles contain non-conservative missense mutations in the Notchless homolog 1 (Drosophila) (Nle1) gene. NLE1 is a member of the large WD40-repeat protein family, and is thought to signal via the canonical NOTCH pathway in vertebrates. However, the phenotype of the Nle1 mutant mice is much more severe than single Notch receptor mutations or even in animals in which NOTCH signaling is blocked. To test the hypothesis that NLE1 functions in multiple signaling pathways during pre-implantation development, we examined expression of multiple Notch downstream target genes, as well as select members of the Wnt pathway in wild-type and mutant embryos. We did not detect altered expression of any primary members of the Notch pathway or in Notch downstream target genes. However, our data reveal that Cdkn1a, a NOTCH target, was upregulated in Nle1 mutants, while several members of the Wnt pathway are downregulated. In addition, we found that Nle1 mutant embryos undergo caspase-mediated apoptosis as hatched blastocysts, but not as morulae or blastocysts.Taken together, these results uncover potential novel functions for NLE1 in the WNT and CDKN1A pathways during embryonic development in mammals.

    View details for DOI 10.1186/1471-2156-13-106

    View details for Web of Science ID 000314224600001

    View details for PubMedID 23231322

  • Differing results for motivation tests and measures of resource use: The value of environmental enrichment to gestating sows housed in stalls APPLIED ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR SCIENCE Elmore, M. R., Garner, J. P., Johnson, A. K., Kirkden, R. D., Patterson-Kane, E. G., Richert, B. T., Pajor, E. A. 2012; 141 (1-2): 9-19
  • A standardized cage measurement system: A versatile tool for calculating usable cage space JOURNAL OF APPLIED POULTRY RESEARCH Kiess, A. S., Hester, P. Y., Mench, J. A., Newberry, R. C., Garner, J. P. 2012; 21 (3): 657-668
  • A system utilizing radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to monitor individual rodent behavior in complex social settings JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE METHODS Howerton, C. L., Garner, J. P., Mench, J. A. 2012; 209 (1): 74-78


    Pre-clinical investigation of human CNS disorders relies heavily on mouse models. However these show low predictive validity for translational success to humans, partly due to the extensive use of rapid, high-throughput behavioral assays. Improved assays to monitor rodent behavior over longer time scales in a variety of contexts while still maintaining the efficiency of data collection associated with high-throughput assays are needed. We developed an apparatus that uses radio frequency identification device (RFID) technology to facilitate long-term automated monitoring of the behavior of mice in socially or structurally complex cage environments. Mice that were individually marked and implanted with transponders were placed in pairs in the apparatus, and their locations continuously tracked for 24 h. Video observation was used to validate the RFID readings. The apparatus and its associated software accurately tracked the locations of all mice, yielding information about each mouse's location over time, its diel activity patterns, and the amount of time it was in the same location as the other mouse in the pair. The information that can be efficiently collected in this apparatus has a variety of applications for pre-clinical research on human CNS disorders, for example major depressive disorder and autism spectrum disorder, in that it can be used to quantify validated endophenotypes or biomarkers of these disorders using rodent models. While the specific configuration of the apparatus described here was designed to answer particular experimental questions, it can be modified in various ways to accommodate different experimental designs.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2012.06.001

    View details for Web of Science ID 000307132700009

    View details for PubMedID 22698663

  • The effect of cage and house design on egg production and egg weight of White Leghorn hens: An epidemiological study POULTRY SCIENCE Garner, J. P., Kiess, A. S., Mench, J. A., Newberry, R. C., Hester, P. Y. 2012; 91 (7): 1522-1535


    Hen performance can be affected by many interacting variables related to cage design, such as floor area, height, tier arrangement, and feeder and drinker type and placement within the cage. Likewise, features of house design such as waste management and lighting can also affect hen productivity. The influence of these design aspects on hen performance has not been fully assessed. Determining the effects of numerous, interacting variables is impractical in a traditional experiment; therefore, an epidemiological approach, using variability in cage and house design among and within commercial producers, was employed to identify features that affect egg production and egg weight. A universal cage measurement system was created to calculate cage design variables. A database for recording information on cage design, resource location, waste management, environmental conditions, and hen productivity was developed. Production outcomes were assessed from placement to 60 wk of age in White Leghorns (n = 165-168 houses). Using GLM, a statistical model was identified that best described the variance in egg traits. Eggs/hen-housed increased with greater feeder space allocation (P = 0.031); taller cages (P = 0.029); rear (vs. front) drinker location in vertical cages (P = 0.026); and regular removal of manure from the house (P = 0.005). Case weight of eggs was greater in A-frame houses where manure was removed regularly instead of being left in the house (P < 0.001); with increasing cage floor slope (P = 0.001); in cages where drinkers were placed more toward the front or back of the cage as compared with the middle of the cage (P < 0.001); with more space/hen (P = 0.024); and with higher caloric intake (P < 0.001). Perhaps because of its negative correlation with egg production, case weight of eggs increased with less feeder space allocation (P = 0.004) and shorter cage heights (P < 0.001). These results reveal important effects of feeder space, floor space, cage height, drinker position, and waste management on hen productivity.

    View details for DOI 10.3382/ps.2011-01969

    View details for Web of Science ID 000305590200004

    View details for PubMedID 22700495

  • Heat or Insulation: Behavioral Titration of Mouse Preference for Warmth or Access to a Nest PLOS ONE Gaskill, B. N., Gordon, C. J., Pajor, E. A., Lucas, J. R., Davis, J. K., Garner, J. P. 2012; 7 (3)


    In laboratories, mice are housed at 20-24°C, which is below their lower critical temperature (≈30°C). This increased thermal stress has the potential to alter scientific outcomes. Nesting material should allow for improved behavioral thermoregulation and thus alleviate this thermal stress. Nesting behavior should change with temperature and material, and the choice between nesting or thermotaxis (movement in response to temperature) should also depend on the balance of these factors, such that mice titrate nesting material against temperature. Naïve CD-1, BALB/c, and C57BL/6 mice (36 male and 36 female/strain in groups of 3) were housed in a set of 2 connected cages, each maintained at a different temperature using a water bath. One cage in each set was 20°C (Nesting cage; NC) while the other was one of 6 temperatures (Temperature cage; TC: 20, 23, 26, 29, 32, or 35°C). The NC contained one of 6 nesting provisions (0, 2, 4, 6, 8, or 10g), changed daily. Food intake and nest scores were measured in both cages. As the difference in temperature between paired cages increased, feed consumption in NC increased. Nesting provision altered differences in nest scores between the 2 paired temperatures. Nest scores in NC increased with increasing provision. In addition, temperature pairings altered the difference in nest scores with the smallest difference between locations at 26°C and 29°C. Mice transferred material from NC to TC but the likelihood of transfer decreased with increasing provision. Overall, mice of different strains and sexes prefer temperatures between 26-29°C and the shift from thermotaxis to nest building is seen between 6 and 10 g of material. Our results suggest that under normal laboratory temperatures, mice should be provided with no less than 6 grams of nesting material, but up to 10 grams may be needed to alleviate thermal distress under typical temperatures.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0032799

    View details for Web of Science ID 000305339100018

    View details for PubMedID 22479340

  • If You Knew What Was Good For You! The Value of Environmental Enrichments With Known Welfare Benefits Is Not Demonstrated by Sows Using Operant Techniques JOURNAL OF APPLIED ANIMAL WELFARE SCIENCE Elmore, M. R., Garner, J. P., Johnson, A. K., Kirkden, R. D., Richert, B. T., Pajor, E. A. 2012; 15 (3): 254-271


    This study assessed the motivation of gestating sows housed in standard, barren gestation stalls (used for breeding/implantation and/or gestation) for access to environmental enrichment. Enrichment consisted of a cotton rope or rubber mat in comparison to positive (additional food when fed at commercial levels) and negative (empty trough) controls. Although environmental enrichment may improve animal welfare, sows' valuation of enrichments is largely unknown. This study used an operant panel and obtained behavioral measures to quantify motivation. As indicated by a higher price paid and lower latencies to press the panel and enter the treatment stall (all comparisons, p < .05), sows demonstrated higher motivation for food compared with all treatments. Sows housed in gestation stalls did not demonstrate high motivation via operant responding for a cotton rope or a rubber mat; nor did they demonstrate any differences in behavioral measures (all comparisons, p > .10). Although sows' motivation for a mat did not differ from that for an empty trough, previous work has demonstrated the welfare benefits associated with comfort flooring.

    View details for DOI 10.1080/10888705.2012.683982

    View details for Web of Science ID 000305950000005

    View details for PubMedID 22742201

  • Retained Fetal Membranes in C57BL/6NCrl Mice: Description of Clinical Case Presentations and Related Epidemiologic Findings COMPARATIVE MEDICINE Johnson, J. K., Vemulapalli, T. H., Van Alstine, W. G., Roberts, C. S., Garner, J. P., Hickman, D. L. 2011; 61 (6): 505-509


    During a triinstitutional study to test whether individually ventilated caging systems impaired welfare and reproduction relative to static housing systems, varying numbers (2 to 7) of discoid-shaped, fleshy structures were found in utero of 17 postpartum female mice on study. Further investigation revealed these structures to be retained fetal membranes (RFM). A point prevalence of 24.3% was calculated based on a total population of 70 postpartum female mice on study. This finding was preceded by 3 typical clinical presentations, which are described here. We designed a case-control matched cross-sectional epidemiologic study to identify associated risk factors and antemortem indicators of RFM. Housing on the bottom shelves and attachment to the rack systems were factors associated with a diagnosis of the condition. In addition, neutrophilia, monocytosis, lymphopenia, and decreasing hematocrit values were associated with the diagnosis of RFM. These results confirmed that a CBC can be a useful antemortem screening test for the identification of affected mice. We conclude that RFM are likely an incidental finding although they may present concurrent with other pregnancy complications.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000297910100004

    View details for PubMedID 22330577

  • Recurrent perseveration correlates with abnormal repetitive locomotion in adult mink but is not reduced by environmental enrichment BEHAVIOURAL BRAIN RESEARCH Dallaire, J. A., Meagher, R. K., Diez-Leon, M., Garner, J. P., Mason, G. J. 2011; 224 (2): 213-222


    We analysed the relationship between abnormal repetitive behaviour (ARB), the presence/absence of environmental enrichment, and two types of behavioural disinhibition in farmed American mink, Neovison vison. The first type, recurrent perseveration, the inappropriate repetition of already completed responses, was assessed using three indices of excessive response repetition and patterning in a bias-corrected serial two-choice guessing task. The second type, disinhibition of prepotent responses to reward cues, a form of impulsivity, was tested in a locomotive detour task adapted from primate reaching tasks: subjects were required to walk around, rather than directly into, a transparent barrier behind which food was visible. In older adult females, recurrent perseveration positively predicted pre-feeding abnormal repetitive locomotion (ARL) in Non-enriched housing. High-ARL subjects also performed repeated (same-choice) responses more rapidly than low-ARL animals, even when statistically controlling for alternated (different-choice) response latency. Mink performed much less ARL following transfer to Enriched housing, but there was no corresponding change in recurrent perseveration. Thus, elevated recurrent perseveration is not sufficient for frequent ARL; and while captive environments do determine ARL frequency, in mink, they do not necessarily do so by modifying levels of perseveration. Disinhibition of prepotent responses to reward cues, meanwhile, did not predict ARL. In a separate sample of differentially housed young adults, neither type of behavioural disinhibition predicted ARL, and again, whether or not housing was enriched did not affect behavioural disinhibition despite affecting ARL. Thus, the relationship between recurrent perseveration and ARB may only develop with age; longitudinal studies are now required for confirmation.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.bbr.2011.03.061

    View details for Web of Science ID 000294795600001

    View details for PubMedID 21466825

  • Getting around social status: Motivation and enrichment use of dominant and subordinate sows in a group setting APPLIED ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR SCIENCE Elmore, M. R., Garner, J. P., Johnson, A. K., Kirkden, R. D., Richert, B. T., Pajor, E. A. 2011; 133 (3-4): 154-163
  • Reverse-translational biomarker validation of Abnormal Repetitive Behaviors in mice: An illustration of the 4P's modeling approach BEHAVIOURAL BRAIN RESEARCH Garner, J. P., Thogerson, C. M., Dufour, B. D., Wuerbel, H., Murray, J. D., Mench, J. A. 2011; 219 (2): 189-196


    The NIMH's new strategic plan, with its emphasis on the "4P's" (Prediction, Pre-emption, Personalization, and Populations) and biomarker-based medicine requires a radical shift in animal modeling methodology. In particular 4P's models will be non-determinant (i.e. disease severity will depend on secondary environmental and genetic factors); and validated by reverse-translation of animal homologues to human biomarkers. A powerful consequence of the biomarker approach is that different closely related disorders have a unique fingerprint of biomarkers. Animals can be validated as a highly specific model of a single disorder by matching this 'fingerprint'; or as a model of a symptom seen in multiple disorders by matching common biomarkers. Here we illustrate this approach with two Abnormal Repetitive Behaviors (ARBs) in mice: stereotypies and barbering (hair pulling). We developed animal versions of the neuropsychological biomarkers that distinguish human ARBs, and tested the fingerprint of the different mouse ARBs. As predicted, the two mouse ARBs were associated with different biomarkers. Both barbering and stereotypy could be discounted as models of OCD (even though they are widely used as such), due to the absence of limbic biomarkers which are characteristic of OCD and hence are necessary for a valid model. Conversely barbering matched the fingerprint of trichotillomania (i.e. selective deficits in set-shifting), suggesting it may be a highly specific model of this disorder. In contrast stereotypies were correlated only with a biomarker (deficits in response shifting) correlated with stereotypies in multiple disorders, suggesting that animal stereotypies model stereotypies in multiple disorders.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.bbr.2011.01.002

    View details for Web of Science ID 000289703700003

    View details for PubMedID 21219937

  • Working with what you've got: Changes in thermal preference and behavior in mice with or without nesting material JOURNAL OF THERMAL BIOLOGY Gaskill, B. N., Rohr, S. A., Pajor, E. A., Lucas, J. R., Garner, J. P. 2011; 36 (3): 193-199
  • Little and often? Maintaining continued performance in an automated T-maze for mice BEHAVIOURAL PROCESSES Gaskill, B. N., Lucas, J. R., Pajor, E. A., Garner, J. P. 2011; 86 (2): 272-278


    Operant and maze tasks in mice are limited by the small number of trials possible in a session before mice lose motivation. We hypothesized that by manipulating reward size and session length, motivation, and hence performance, would be maintained in an automated T-maze. We predicted that larger rewards and shorter sessions would improve acquisition; and smaller rewards and shorter sessions would maintain higher and less variable performance. Eighteen C57BL/6J mice (9 per sex) acquired (criterion 8/10 correct) and performed a spatial discrimination, with one of 3 reward sizes (.02, .04, or .08 g) and one of 3 session schedules (15, 30, or 45 min sessions). Each mouse had a total of 360 min of access to the maze per night, for two nights, and averaged 190 trials. Analysis used split-plot GLM with contrasts testing for linear effects. Acquisition of the discrimination was unaffected by reward size or session length/interval. After-criterion average performance improved as reward size decreased. After-criterion variability in performance was also affected. Variability increased as reward size increased. Session length/interval did not affect any outcome. We conclude that an automated maze, with suitable reward sizes, can sustain performance with low variability, at 5-10 times faster than traditional methods.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.beproc.2010.12.007

    View details for Web of Science ID 000287984900015

    View details for PubMedID 21187130

  • Effect of Population Heterogenization on the Reproducibility of Mouse Behavior: A Multi-Laboratory Study PLOS ONE Richter, S. H., Garner, J. P., Zipser, B., Lewejohann, L., Sachser, N., Touma, C., Schindler, B., Chourbaji, S., Brandwein, C., Gass, P., van Stipdonk, N., van der Harst, J., Spruijt, B., Voikar, V., Wolfer, D. P., Wuerbel, H. 2011; 6 (1)


    In animal experiments, animals, husbandry and test procedures are traditionally standardized to maximize test sensitivity and minimize animal use, assuming that this will also guarantee reproducibility. However, by reducing within-experiment variation, standardization may limit inference to the specific experimental conditions. Indeed, we have recently shown in mice that standardization may generate spurious results in behavioral tests, accounting for poor reproducibility, and that this can be avoided by population heterogenization through systematic variation of experimental conditions. Here, we examined whether a simple form of heterogenization effectively improves reproducibility of test results in a multi-laboratory situation. Each of six laboratories independently ordered 64 female mice of two inbred strains (C57BL/6NCrl, DBA/2NCrl) and examined them for strain differences in five commonly used behavioral tests under two different experimental designs. In the standardized design, experimental conditions were standardized as much as possible in each laboratory, while they were systematically varied with respect to the animals' test age and cage enrichment in the heterogenized design. Although heterogenization tended to improve reproducibility by increasing within-experiment variation relative to between-experiment variation, the effect was too weak to account for the large variation between laboratories. However, our findings confirm the potential of systematic heterogenization for improving reproducibility of animal experiments and highlight the need for effective and practicable heterogenization strategies.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0016461

    View details for Web of Science ID 000286834300066

    View details for PubMedID 21305027

  • Cage-induced stereotypies in female ICR CD-1 mice do not correlate with recurrent perseveration BEHAVIOURAL BRAIN RESEARCH Gross, A. N., Engel, A. K., Richter, S. H., Garner, J. P., Wuerbel, H. 2011; 216 (2): 613-620


    Stereotypies are repetitive, unvarying, apparently purposeless behavioural patterns. They develop in animals kept in barren environments and are highly prevalent in laboratory mice (Mus musculus), yet their underlying mechanisms have remained elusive. In humans, stereotypies are associated with several psychiatric disorders and are thought to reflect dysfunction of inhibition of motor programs mediated by the corticostriatal circuitry, resulting in recurrent perseveration (=inappropriate repetition of behavioural responses). Several studies in captive animals of different species have reported a correlation between stereotypy performance and perseverative behaviour, indicating a similar dysfunction. To examine whether stereotypies in mice correlate with recurrent perseveration and whether they are causally related, we raised 40 female ICR CD-1 mice in either barren or enriched cages from three to either six or 16 weeks of age (2 × 2 factorial design) and assessed stereotypic behaviour in the home cage and recurrent perseveration on a two-choice guessing task. Enrichment significantly reduced stereotypic behaviour both at six and 16 weeks of age and recurrent perseveration increased with age. Although enriched housing reduced the number of repetitions in the guessing task significantly, there was no clear evidence for an effect on recurrent perseveration, and recurrent perseveration did not correlate positively with stereotypy level. These findings indicate either that this test did not measure recurrent perseveration or that cage stereotypies in these mice do not reflect behavioural disinhibition as measured by recurrent perseveration.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.bbr.2010.09.003

    View details for Web of Science ID 000285217300017

    View details for PubMedID 20837068

  • Working with what you've got: Changes in thermal preference and behavior in mice with or without nesting material Journal of Thermal Biology Gaskill BN, Rohr SA, Pajor EA, Lucas JR, Garner JP 2011; 36 (3): 193-199
  • Nutritional up-regulation of serotonin paradoxically induces compulsive behavior NUTRITIONAL NEUROSCIENCE Dufour, B. D., Adeola, O., Cheng, H., Donkin, S. S., Klein, J. D., Pajor, E. A., Garner, J. P. 2010; 13 (6): 256-264


    Dietary etiologies or treatments for complex mental disorder are highly controversial in psychiatry. Nevertheless, diet affects brain chemistry (particularly serotonin), and can reduce abnormal behavior in humans and animals. We formulated a diet that elevated brain serotonin and tested whether it would reduce hair pulling in a mouse model of trichotillomania. In a double-blind crossover trial, dietary elevation of brain serotonin unexpectedly increased hair pulling (P = 0.0006) and induced ulcerative dermatitis (UD; P = 0.001). The causative agent for UD is unknown. Therefore, we fed the treatment diet to a second group of mice to test whether UD is behavioral in origin. The diet increased scratching behavior (P < 0.0001). However, high scratching behavior (P = 0.027) and low barbering (P = 0.040) prior to treatment predicted the development of UD. Thus diet can trigger the onset of a complex disorder in the absence of an underlying metabolic deficit. Furthermore, we propose UD as model of compulsive skin-picking.

    View details for DOI 10.1179/147683010X12611460764688

    View details for Web of Science ID 000283672400002

    View details for PubMedID 21040623

  • Aggressiveness and brain amine concentration in dominant and subordinate finishing pigs fed the beta-adrenoreceptor agonist ractopamine JOURNAL OF ANIMAL SCIENCE Poletto, R., Cheng, H. W., Meisel, R. L., Garner, J. P., Richert, B. T., Marchant-Forde, J. N. 2010; 88 (9): 3107-3120


    Under farm conditions, aggression related to the formation of social hierarchy and competition for resources can be a major problem because of associated injuries, social stress, and carcass losses. Any factor that may affect the regulation and amount of aggression within a farmed system, for instance, feeding the beta-adrenoreceptor agonist ractopamine (RAC), is therefore worthy of investigation. The objectives of this study were to assess the effects of the widely used swine feed additive RAC, considering also the effects of sex and social rank on aggressiveness and concentrations of brain amines, neurotransmitters essential for controlling aggression, in finishing pigs. Thirty-two barrows and 32 gilts (4 pigs/pen by sex) were fed either a control diet or a diet with RAC (Paylean, Elanco Animal Health, Greenfield, IN) added (5 mg/kg for 2 wk, followed by 10 mg/kg for 2 wk). The top dominant and bottom subordinate pigs (16 pigs/sex) in each pen were determined after mixing by a 36-h period of continuous behavioral observation. These pigs were then subjected to resident-intruder tests (maximum 300 s) during the feeding trial to measure aggressiveness. At the end of wk 4, the amygdala, frontal cortex, hypothalamus, and raphe nuclei were dissected and analyzed for concentrations of dopamine (DA); serotonin (5-HT); their metabolites 3,4-dihydroxyphenyl acetic acid (DOPAC) and homovanillic acid, and 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA), respectively; norepinephrine; and epinephrine using HPLC. Ractopamine-fed gilts performed more attacks during the first 30 s of testing than pigs in all other subgroups (P < 0.05). By the end of the resident-intruder test (300 s), the dominant control gilts and barrows, and both dominant and subordinate RAC-fed gilts performed the greatest percentage of attacks (P < 0.05). Gilts had decreased norepinephrine and DOPAC concentrations in the amygdala and frontal cortex, and when fed RAC, gilts also had the least 5-HIAA concentration and greatest DA turnover rate in the amygdala (P < 0.05). The 5-HT concentration was less in the frontal cortex of gilts compared with barrows and in the raphe nuclei (single site for brain 5-HT synthesis) of dominant gilts (P < 0.05). Ractopamine may be affecting aggressive behavior through indirect action on central regulatory mechanisms such as the DA system. The aggressive pattern observed in the tested pigs, especially in gilts, is likely linked to brain monoamine profiling of a deficient serotonergic system in the raphe nuclei, amygdala, and frontal cortex, and enhanced DA metabolism in the amygdala, brain areas vital for aggression regulation.

    View details for DOI 10.2527/jas.2009-1876

    View details for Web of Science ID 000280866200025

    View details for PubMedID 20495130

  • A flooring comparison: The impact of rubber mats on the health, behavior, and welfare of group-housed sows at breeding APPLIED ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR SCIENCE Elmore, M. R., Garner, J. P., Johnson, A. K., Richert, B. T., Pajor, E. A. 2010; 123 (1-2): 7-15
  • A flooring comparison: The impact of rubber mats on the health, behavior, and welfare of group-housed sows at breeding Applied Animal Behaviour Science Elmore MRP, Garner JP, Johnson AK 2010; 123 (1-2): 7-15
  • The effect of feeder space allocation on productivity and physiology of Hy-Line W-36 hens housed in conventional cages POULTRY SCIENCE Thogerson, C. M., Hester, P. Y., Mench, J. A., Newberry, R. C., Okura, C. M., Pajor, E. A., Talaty, P. N., Garner, J. P. 2009; 88 (9)


    Insufficient feeder space for laying hens could increase competition at the feed trough, leading to disrupted feeding, inadequate nutrient intake, stress, and reduced productivity. The effects of feeder space allocation (FSA) on physiology and productivity were evaluated in beak-trimmed Hy-Line W-36 hens (n=480). They were obtained at 16.5 wk of age and housed on 4 tiers of shallow conventional cages. Five pullets/cage were housed at a stocking density of 434 cm2/hen and a feeder space of 12.2 cm/hen. After 1.5 wk of acclimation, baseline measurements were taken for feed utilization, bone mineralization, and heterophil:lymphocyte ratios. At 20 wk of age, pullets were given 5.8, 7.1, 8.4, 9.7, 10.9, or 12.2 cm of feeder space/bird (16 cages/treatment). Physiological and production measures were calculated monthly or twice a month for 12 mo. The heart, spleen, and right adrenal gland were collected from each hen at the end of the study. Data were analyzed using a repeated measures GLM incorporating cage, tier, FSA, and hen age. There were no effects of FSA on total egg production, bone mineral density, bone mineral content, heterophil:lymphocyte ratios, or organ weights. Hens with reduced FSA utilized more feed (P<0.001), had poorer feed conversion (P<0.001), and laid eggs with slightly thicker and heavier shells (P<0.001). There were effects of FSA on total egg weight (P<0.001) and hen-day egg production (P<0.001), but they were of low magnitude and not linear (P>0.05). Because BW was similar among FSA treatments, the results suggest that reduced feeder space did not limit feed intake. In addition, reduced FSA did not lower bone mineralization or cause physiological stress in W-36 hens housed in shallow cages, suggesting that it did not impair hen welfare. However, it did result in poorer feed efficiency, possibly related to greater feed wastage, predictive of an adverse economic effect from reducing feeder space.

    View details for DOI 10.3382/ps.2009-00011

    View details for Web of Science ID 000269043600003

    View details for PubMedID 19687261

  • The effect of feeder space allocation on behavior of Hy-Line W-36 hens housed in conventional cages POULTRY SCIENCE Thogerson, C. M., Hester, P. Y., Mench, J. A., Newberry, R. C., Pajor, E. A., Garner, J. P. 2009; 88 (8): 1544-1552


    Insufficient feeder space for laying hens could increase competition at the feed trough, resulting in exclusion of low-ranking hens from the feeder. To test this hypothesis, the effects of feeder space allocation (FSA) on feeding behavior, aggression, feather scores, BW, and mortality were evaluated in a common commercial strain of egg-laying chickens. Beak-trimmed Hy-Line W-36 hens (n = 480) were obtained as pullets at 16.5 wk of age and housed in conventional cages on 4 tiers. Five pullets/cage were housed at a stocking density of 434 cm(2)/pullet and an FSA of 12.2 cm/pullet. After 1.5 wk of acclimation, baseline measurements were taken for 2 wk and then pullets were given either 5.8, 7.1, 8.4, 9.7, 10.9, or 12.2 cm of feeder space/hen (16 cages/treatment). Feeding behavior was evaluated in each cage over a 24-h period each month. For each hen, percentage of time spent feeding and synchrony (mean number of additional hens feeding at the same time) were determined and scores were averaged for each cage. For each cage, feeder switching (number of observations in which hens changed from feeding to not feeding) and feeder sharing (probability that feeder access was equally distributed among all hens) were calculated. At monthly intervals, individual hens were weighed and their feathers scored using a 5-point scale on 8 body regions. Data were analyzed using a repeated measures GLM incorporating cage, tier, FSA, and age of the hen. Hens with reduced feeder space spent less time feeding (P < 0.001), synchronized their feeding bouts to a lesser extent (P < 0.001), made fewer switches at the feeder (P < 0.001), and shared the feeder less (P < 0.001). However, feather scores, BW, and BW uniformity were not affected by FSA. There was almost no aggressive behavior and little mortality. These results demonstrate that Hy-Line W-36 hens did not respond to reduced feeder space by aggressively excluding cage-mates from the feeder but instead desynchronized their feeding behavior.

    View details for DOI 10.3382/ps.2009-00010

    View details for Web of Science ID 000268128100004

    View details for PubMedID 19590067

  • Thermonociception in fish: Effects of two different doses of morphine on thermal threshold and post-test behaviour in goldfish (Carassius auratus) APPLIED ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR SCIENCE Nordgreen, J., Garner, J. P., Janczak, A. M., Ranheim, B., Muir, W. M., Horsberg, T. E. 2009; 119 (1-2): 101-107
  • Environmental standardization: cure or cause of poor reproducibility in animal experiments? NATURE METHODS Richter, S. H., Garner, J. P., Wuerbel, H. 2009; 6 (4): 257-261


    It is widely believed that environmental standardization is the best way to guarantee reproducible results in animal experiments. However, mounting evidence indicates that even subtle differences in laboratory or test conditions can lead to conflicting test outcomes. Because experimental treatments may interact with environmental conditions, experiments conducted under highly standardized conditions may reveal local 'truths' with little external validity. We review this hypothesis here and present a proof of principle based on data from a multilaboratory study on behavioral differences between inbred mouse strains. Our findings suggest that environmental standardization is a cause of, rather than a cure for, poor reproducibility of experimental outcomes. Environmental standardization can contribute to spurious and conflicting findings in the literature and unnecessary animal use. This conclusion calls for research into practicable and effective ways of systematic environmental heterogenization to attenuate these scientific, economic and ethical costs.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/NMETH.1312

    View details for Web of Science ID 000264738800012

    View details for PubMedID 19333241

  • Some like it hot: Mouse temperature preferences in laboratory housing APPLIED ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR SCIENCE Gaskill, B. N., Rohr, S. A., Pajor, E. A., Lucas, J. R., Garner, J. P. 2009; 116 (2-4): 279-285
  • Thermonociception in fish: Effects of two different doses of morphine on thermal threshold and post-test behaviour in goldfish (Carassius auratus) APPLIED ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR SCIENCE Nordgreen J, Garner JP, Janczak Am, Ranheim B, Muir WM, Horsberg TE 2009; 119 (1-2): 101-107
  • Some like it hot: Mouse temperature preferences in laboratory housing APPLIED ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR SCIENCE Gaskill BN, Rohr SA, Pajor EA, Lucas JR, Garner JP 2009; 116 (2-4): 279-285
  • Impact of Nesting Material on Mouse Thermoregulation and Variability JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR LABORATORY ANIMAL SCIENCE Gaskill BN, Gordon CJ, Pajor EA, Garner JP 2009; 48 (5): 549-549
  • Preferences of Orange-winged Amazon parrots (Amazona amazonica) for cage enrichment devices Applied Animal Behaviour Science Kim LC, Garner JP, Millam JR 2009; 120 (3-4): 216-223
  • Effects of a running wheel-igloo enrichment on aggression, hierarchy linearity, and stereotypy in group-housed male CD-1 (ICR) mice APPLIED ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR SCIENCE Howerton, C. L., Garner, J. P., Mench, J. A. 2008; 115 (1-2): 90-103
  • Home Improvement: C57BL/6J Mice Given More Naturalistic Nesting Materials Build Better Nests JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR LABORATORY ANIMAL SCIENCE Hess, S. E., Rohr, S., Dufour, B. D., Gaskill, B. N., Pajor, E. A., Garner, J. P. 2008; 47 (6): 25-31


    Environmental enrichment of laboratory mice can improve the quality of research, but debate arises over the means of enrichment and its ability to be used in a sterile environment. One important form of enrichment is nesting material. Mice in the wild build dome-shaped, complex, multilayered nests, but this behavior is not seen in the laboratory, perhaps due to inappropriate nesting material rather than the nest-building ability of the mice. Here we focus on the use of naturalistic nesting materials to test whether they improve nest quality through the use of a 'naturalistic nest score' system; we also focus on materials that can be sterilized and easily used in existing housing systems. We first determined whether C57BL/6J mice build naturalistic nests when given shredded paper strips. We then compared these shredded paper strips with other commonly used nesting enrichments (facial tissues and compressed cotton squares). Nests were scored for 6 d. We found that the shredded paper strips allowed the mice to build higher quality nests than those built with any of the other materials. Nests built with tissues were of intermediate quality, and nests built with compressed cotton squares were of poor quality, similar to those built by the control group. These results suggest that C57BL/6J mice given appropriate nesting materials can build nests similar to those built by their wild counterparts.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000261438400006

    View details for PubMedID 19049249

  • A note on the effects of co-mingling piglet litters on pre-weaning growth, injuries and responses to behavioural tests APPLIED ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR SCIENCE Kanaan, V. T., Pajor, E. A., Lay, D. C., Richert, B. T., Garner, J. P. 2008; 110 (3-4): 386-391
  • A note on the effects of co-mingling piglet litters on pre-weaning growth, injuries and responses to behavioural tests APPLIED ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR SCIENCE Kanaan VT, Pajor EA, Lay DC, Richter BT, Garner JP 2008; 110 (3-4): 386-391
  • Effects of a running wheel-igloo enrichment on aggression, hierarchy linearity, and stereotypy in group-housed male CD-1 (ICR) mice APPLIED ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR SCIENCE Howerton CL, Garner JP, Mench JA 2008; 115 (1-2): 90-103
  • The effects of different bill-trimming methods on the well-being of pekin ducks POULTRY SCIENCE Gustafson, L. A., Cheng, H., Garner, J. P., Pajor, E. A., Mench, J. A. 2007; 86 (9): 1831-1839


    Pekin ducks are often bill-trimmed to prevent feather pecking and cannibalism, but this practice has been criticized because of the resulting potential for acute and chronic pain. The goal of this experiment was to compare 2 different bill-trimming methods, hot blade trimming with cautery (TRIM) and cautery only (tip-searing; SEAR), on the behavior, bill morphology, and weight gain of Pekin ducks. Ducklings (n = 192, 96 per sex) were trimmed at the hatchery and assigned to 12 floor pens (3.66 x0.91 m) by treatment. Behavior was evaluated by scan sampling, and plumage condition was scored using a 0 to 3 scoring system. Thirty-six ducks were randomly euthanized at 3 and 6 wk of age, and their bills were collected for examination. Following fixation and decalcification, the bills were embedded in paraffin wax and sectioned longitudinally. Alternate sections were stained with hematoxylin and eosin and Masson's trichrome for the connective tissues, and with Bielschowsky's silver impregnation, Bodian's staining, and Holmes' staining for the nerve fibers. Trimmed ducks engaged in fewer bill-related behaviors and rested more than untrimmed ducks (NOTRIM) during the first 2 wk posttrim. Ducks in the SEAR and NOTRIM groups showed similar patterns of weight gain, but those in the TRIM group had a lower rate of gain than ducks in the SEAR group during the first week posttrim and had a lower rate of gain than those in the NOTRIM group for 2 wk posttrim. Feather scores of ducks in the NOTRIM group were significantly worse than those in the TRIM or SEAR group by 18 d, and scores continued to deteriorate at a greater rate than those of trimmed ducks throughout the study. Both trimming methods caused connective tissue proliferation in the bill stumps, but the TRIM method caused thicker scar tissue than the SEAR method. No neuromas were found with either trimming method, but there were more nerve fibers in bill stumps of the SEAR ducks than the TRIM ducks. These results suggest that acute pain is associated with both trimming methods, but that SEAR may be a preferable method, causing less check in weight gain and fewer bill morphological changes while still being effective in minimizing feather pecking damage.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000249016700004

    View details for PubMedID 17704368

  • Trichotillomania, stereotypic movement disorder, and related disorders. Current psychiatry reports Stein, D. J., Garner, J. P., Keuthen, N. J., Franklin, M. E., Walkup, J. T., Woods, D. W. 2007; 9 (4): 301-302


    Trichotillomania is currently classified as an impulse control disorder not otherwise classified, whereas body-focused behaviors other than hair-pulling may be diagnosed as stereotypic movement disorder. A number of disorders characterized by repetitive, body-focused behaviors (eg, skin-picking) are prevalent and disabling and may have phenomenological and psychobiological overlap. Such disorders deserve greater recognition in the official nosology, and there would seem to be clinical utility in classifying them in the same diagnostic category.

    View details for PubMedID 17880861

  • Effects of bill-trimming Muscovy ducks on behavior, body weight gain, and bill morphopathology APPLIED ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR SCIENCE Gustafson, L. A., Cheng, H., Garner, J. P., Pajor, E. A., Mench, J. A. 2007; 103 (1-2): 59-74
  • Refinement of rodent research though environmental enrichment and systematic randomization NC3Rs WRBEL H, GARNER JP 2007; 9: 1-9
  • Effects of bill-trimming Muscovy ducks on behavior, body weight gain, and bill morphopathology APPLIED ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR SCIENCE Gustafson LA, Cheng HW, Garner JP, Pajor EA, Mench JA 2007; 103 (1-2): 59-74
  • Animal neuropsychology: Validation of the Intra-Dimensional Extra-Dimensional set shifting task for mice BEHAVIOURAL BRAIN RESEARCH Garner, J. P., Thogerson, C. M., Wuerbel, H., Murray, J. D., Mench, J. A. 2006; 173 (1): 53-61


    Research in animal neuropsychology is providing an exciting new generation of behavioral tests for mice that promise to overcome many of the limitations of current high-throughput testing, and provide direct animal homologues of clinically important measures in human research. Set shifting tasks are some of the best understood and widely used human neuropsychological tasks, with clinical relevance to traumatic brain injury, schizophrenia, autism, obsessive compulsive disorder, trichotillomania, and many other disorders. Here we report the first successful modification of a human set shifting neuropsychological task, the Intra-Dimensional Extra-Dimensional (IDED) task, for use with mice. We presented mice with a series of compound discrimination and reversal tasks where one stimulus dimension consistently cued reward. Task performance improved with a new set of compound stimuli, as did reversal performance--indicating the formation of a cognitive-attentional set. We then overtrained a subset of the mice, and presented control and overtrained mice with a new compound discrimination where a novel stimulus dimension cued reward. As is the case in human control subjects, control mice persisted in responding to the now-incorrect stimulus dimension, performing poorly on this extra-dimensional shift compared with the previous intra-dimensional shift, thereby validating the task as a measure of set shifting. Furthermore, overtrained mice were impaired on this extra-dimensional shift compared with controls, further validating the task. The advantages and disadvantages of the IDED task compared to high-throughput approaches are discussed.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.bbr.2006.06.002

    View details for Web of Science ID 000240652500007

    View details for PubMedID 16842867

  • Is fearfulness a trait that can be measured with behavioural tests? A validation of four fear tests for Japanese quail ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR Miller, K. A., Garner, J. P., Mench, J. A. 2006; 71: 1323-1334
  • Genetic, environmental, and neighbor effects on the severity of stereotypies and feather picking in Orange-winged Amazon parrots (Amazona amazonica): An epidemiological study APPLIED ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR SCIENCE Garner JP, Meehan Cl, Famula TR 2006; 96
  • Genetic, environmental, and neighbor effects on the severity of stereotypies and feather picking in Orange-winged Amazon parrots (Amazona amazonica): An epidemiological study APPLIED ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR SCIENCE Garner, J. P., Meehan, C. L., Famula, T. R., Mench, J. A. 2006; 96 (1-2): 153-168
  • Genetic, environmental, and neighbor effects on the severity of stereotypies and feather picking in Orange-winged Amazon parrots (Amazona amazonica): An epidemiological study APPLIED ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR SCIENCE Garner JR, Meehan CL, Famula TR, Mench JA 2006; 96 (1-2): 153-168
  • Is fearfulness a trait that can be measured with behavioural tests? A validation of four fear tests for Japanese quail ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR Miller KA, Garner JP, Mench JA 2006; 71 (6): 1323-1334
  • Effect of sand and wood-shavings bedding on the behavior of broiler chickens POULTRY SCIENCE Shields, S. J., Garner, J. P., Mench, J. A. 2005; 84 (12): 1816-1824


    The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of 2 different bedding types, sand and wood shavings, on the behavior of broiler chickens. In experiment 1, 6 pens were divided down the center and bedded half with sand and half with wood shavings. Male broilers (10/pen) were observed by scan sampling at 5- or 12-min intervals throughout the 6-wk growth period during the morning (between 0800 to 0900 h), afternoon (1200 to 1500 h), and night (2300 to 0600 h). There was a significant behavior x substrate x week interaction during the day (P < 0.0001) and at night (P < 0.0002). Drinking, dustbathing, preening, and sitting increased in frequency on the sand side but decreased on the wood shavings side during the day, as did resting at night. In general, broilers performed a greater proportion of their total behavioral time budget on the sand (P < 0.0001) as they aged. Broilers used the divider between the 2 bedding types to perch; perching behavior peaked during wk 4. In experiment 2, male broilers were housed in 8 pens (50 birds/pen) bedded only in sand or wood shavings. Bedding type had no effect on behavioral time budgets (P = 0.8946), although there were age-related changes in behavior on both bedding types. These results indicate that when given a choice, broilers increasingly performed many of their behaviors on sand, but if only one bedding type was provided they performed those behaviors with similar frequency on sand or wood shavings.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000233605200002

    View details for PubMedID 16479936

  • The test-retest reliability of four behavioural tests of fearfulness for quail: a critical evaluation APPLIED ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR SCIENCE Miller, K. A., Garner, J. P., Mench, J. A. 2005; 92 (1-2): 113-127
  • Stereotypies and other abnormal repetitive behaviors: Potential impact on validity, reliability, and replicability of scientific outcomes ILAR JOURNAL Garner, J. P. 2005; 46 (2): 106-117


    Normal behavior plays a key role in facilitating homeostasis, especially by allowing the animal to control and modify its environment. Captive environments may interfere with these behavioral responses, and the resulting stress may alter many physiological parameters. Abnormal behaviors indicate that an animal is unable to adjust behaviorally to the captive environment and, hence, may be expressing abnormal physiology. Therefore, captive environments may affect the following aspects of an experiment: validity, by introducing abnormal animals into experiments; reliability, by increasing interindividual variation through the introduction of such individuals; and replicability, by altering the number and type of such individuals between laboratories. Thus, far from increasing variability, enrichment may actually improve validity, reliability, and replicability by reducing the number of abnormal animals introduced into experiments. In this article, the specific example of abnormal repetitive behaviors (ARBs) is explored. ARBs in captive animals appear to involve the same mechanisms as ARBs in human psychiatry, which reflect underlying abnormalities of brain function. ARBs are also correlated with a wide range of behavioral changes that affect experimental outcomes. Thus, ARBs in laboratory animals may compromise validity, reliability, and replicability, especially in behavioral experiments; and enrichments that prevent ARB may enhance validity, reliability, and replicability. Although many links in this argument have been tested experimentally, key issues still remain in the interpretation of these data. In particular, it is currently unclear (1) whether or not the differences in brain function seen in animals performing ARB are abnormal, (2) which common behavioral paradigms are affected by ARB, and (3) whether enrichment does indeed improve the quality of behavioral data. Ongoing and future work addressing these issues is outlined.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000227259000004

    View details for PubMedID 15775020

  • The test-retest reliability of four behavioural tests of fearfulness for quail; a critical evaluation Applied Animal Behaviour Science Miller KA, Garner JP, Mench JA 2005; 92 (1-2): 113-127
  • Social and husbandry factors affecting the prevalence and severity of barbering ('whisker trimming') by laboratory mice APPLIED ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR SCIENCE Garner, J. P., Dufour, B., Gregg, L. E., Weisker, S. M., Mench, J. A. 2004; 89 (3-4): 263-282
  • Dustbathing by broiler chickens: a comparison of preference for four different substrates APPLIED ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR SCIENCE Shields, S. J., Garner, J. P., Mench, J. A. 2004; 87 (1-2): 69-82
  • Environmental enrichment and development of cage stereotypy in Orange-winged Amazon parrots (Amazona amazonica) DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOBIOLOGY Meehan, C. L., Garner, J. P., Mench, J. A. 2004; 44 (4): 209-218


    Stereotypies are abnormal repetitive behaviors that often develop in animals housed in impoverished environments. Stereotypy represents the interaction of several complex developmental phenomena. To characterize the temporal nature of stereotypy increase (escalation) and decrease (attenuation), we monitored changes in stereotypy performance in young Orange-winged Amazon parrots reared either in barren cages or cages provided with enrichments designed to facilitate foraging and locomotion. Unenriched parrots developed significantly more stereotypy than enriched parrots, and the mean time to stereotypy onset and the rate and magnitude of stereotypy increase also differed between the two groups. We then provided enrichment to the birds that had been reared in the barren cages. Following a 4-week delay, stereotypy was significantly reduced. These results show that stereotypy can be both prevented and reversed with appropriate environmental modification and illustrate how studying this behavior at many points over time can provide insights into its ontogeny.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/dev.20007

    View details for Web of Science ID 000221157700001

    View details for PubMedID 15103731

  • Barbering (Fur and whisker trimming) by laboratory mice as a model of human trichotillomania and obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders COMPARATIVE MEDICINE Garner, J. P., Weisker, S. M., Dufour, B., Mench, J. A. 2004; 54 (2): 216-224


    Animal diseases that develop spontaneously in a limited subpopulation can provide powerful models of human disease because they provide a means to investigate the interaction of a broad range of biological and environmental etiologic processes. In contrast, with experimentally induced animal models, the etiology of the model is inherently fixed, and can only speak to a limited subset of those involved in the human disease. 'Barbering' (abnormal whisker- and fur-plucking behavior) in mice resembles human trichotillomania (compulsive hair plucking) in that barbering mice pluck focused areas of hair, and engage in post-plucking manipulatory and oral behaviors. We performed a cross-sectional epidemiologic survey of a population of 2,950 laboratory mice to further assess the face validity of barbering as a spontaneous model of trichotillomania. Patterns of hair loss and demographic and etiologic risk factors were recorded for each mouse, and were analyzed by use of logistic regression. Barbering paralleled trichotillomania in terms of phenomenology, demography, and etiology. Thus, similar to trichotillomania, barbers predominately plucked hair from the scalp and around the eyes and the genitals; barbering was female biased, and had its onset during puberty; and etiologic factors included reproductive status and genetic background. Therefore, barbering has excellent face validity as a model of trichotillomania, and may represent a refined and non-invasive model, especially for studies of the complex genetic/environmental etiologies of this disorder.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000221213400013

    View details for PubMedID 15134369

  • A behavioral comparison of New Zealand White rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) housed individually or in pairs in conventional laboratory cages APPLIED ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR SCIENCE Chu, L. R., Garner, J. P., Mench, J. A. 2004; 85 (1-2): 121-139
  • Social and husbandry factors affecting the prevalence and severity of barbering ('whisker trimming') by laboratory mice APPLIED ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR SCIENCE Garner JP, Dufour B, Gregg LE, Weisker SM, Mench JA 2004; 89 (3-4): 263-282
  • Dustbathing by broiler chickens: a comparison of preference for four different substrates APPLIED ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR SCIENCE Shields SJ, Garner JP, Mench JA 2004; 87 (1-2): 69-82
  • A behavioral comparison of New Zealand White rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) housed individually or in pairs in conventional laboratory cages APPLIED ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR SCIENCE Chu LR, Garner JP, Mench JA 2004; 85 (1-2): 121-139
  • Stereotypies in caged parrots, schizophrenia and autism: evidence for a common mechanism BEHAVIOURAL BRAIN RESEARCH Garner, J. P., Meehan, C. L., Mench, J. A. 2003; 145 (1-2): 125-134


    Spontaneously occurring abnormal behaviors in animals have recently received considerable attention, both in veterinary medicine and as a potential model for abnormal behavior in several human mental disorders. Stereotypies are abnormal repetitive, unvarying, and functionless behaviors that are often performed by captive and domesticated animals housed in barren environments. They closely resemble the stereotypies of autistic and mentally retarded patients, stereotypies of unmedicated chronic schizophrenic patients, certain classes of simple tic in Tourette's syndrome, and several drug-induced behaviors. However, evidence for a common mechanism has been lacking. Stereotypies in human mental disorders are indicative of profound brain dysfunction involving the basal ganglia, and are associated with pervasive voluntary-motor impairments and psychological distress. Here we show that stereotypy in captive Orange-Wing Amazon Parrots (Amazona amazonica) is correlated with poor performance on the same psychiatric task (the 'gambling task') as stereotypy in autistic and schizophrenic patients. The task measures recurrent perseveration-the tendency to inappropriately repeat responses. Thus, the more stereotypy a parrot performed, the more likely it was to inappropriately repeat itself from trial-to-trial on the task; and the more rapidly it made repeated, but not switched, responses. These results parallel the executive motor impairments seen in human patients, and therefore suggest that, like in human patients, stereotypy in caged parrots reflects a general disinhibition of the behavioral control mechanisms of the dorsal basal ganglia. If this result holds true in other laboratory species, stereotypic animals are likely to be of questionable utility in behavior, neuroscience, and neuropharmacological experiments. In humans, stereotypies and obsessive-compulsive behaviors are considered to be mutually exclusive categories of behavior, with different neural substrates, and different treatment strategies. These results, therefore, suggest that the pharmacological treatment of stereotypies in veterinary medicine based on the assumption that they are equivalent to human Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder may be inappropriate. As stereotypies in captive animals develop in response to the captive environment, these results also emphasize the role that the environment may play in eliciting or exacerbating stereotypy in human patients. Finally, by parallel to human patients, there is a potential psychological distress in animals showing these behaviors.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/S0166-4328(03)00115-3

    View details for Web of Science ID 000186073300013

    View details for PubMedID 14529811

  • Stereotypic route-tracing in experimentally caged songbirds correlates with general behavioural disinhibition ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR Garner, J. P., Mason, G. J., Smith, R. 2003; 66: 711-727
  • Isosexual pair housing improves the welfare of young Amazon parrots APPLIED ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR SCIENCE Meehan, C. L., Garner, J. P., Mench, J. A. 2003; 81 (1): 73-88
  • Stereotypic route-tracing in experimentally caged songbirds correlates with general behavioural disinhibition ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR Garner JP, Meehan CL, Mench JA 2003; 66: 711-727
  • Isosexual pair housing improves the welfare of young Amazon parrots APPLIED ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR SCIENCE Meehan CL, Garner JP, Mench JA 2003; 81 (1): 73-88
  • Evidence for a relationship between cage stereotypies and behavioural disinhibition in laboratory rodents BEHAVIOURAL BRAIN RESEARCH Garner, J. P., Mason, G. J. 2002; 136 (1): 83-92


    Cage stereotypies-abnormal, repetitive, unvarying and apparently functionless behaviours-are common in many captive animals, sometimes resulting in self-injury or decreased reproductive success. However, a general mechanistic or neurophysiological understanding of cage stereotypies has proved elusive. In contrast, stereotypies in human mental disorder, or those induced by drugs or brain lesions, are well understood, and are thought to result from the disinhibition of behavioural selection by the basal ganglia. In this study, we found that the cage stereotypies of captive bank voles also correlate with signs of altered response selection by the basal ganglia. Stereotypic bar-mouthing in the caged voles correlated with inappropriate responding in extinction learning, impairments of response timing, evidence of a knowledge-action dissociation, increased rates of behavioural activation, and hyperactivity. Furthermore, all these signs intercorrelated, implicating a single underlying deficit consistent with striatal disinhibition of response selection. Bar-mouthing thus appears fundamentally similar to the stereotypies of autists, schizophrenics, and subjects treated with amphetamine or basal ganglial lesions. These results represent the first evidence for a neural substrate of cage stereotypy. They also suggest that stereotypic animals may experience novel forms of psychological distress, and that stereotypy might well represent a potential confound in many behavioural experiments.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000178776300009

    View details for PubMedID 12385793

  • Reliability and validity of a modified gait scoring system and its use in assessing tibial dyschondroplasia in broilers BRITISH POULTRY SCIENCE Garner, J. P., Falcone, C., Wakenell, P., Martin, M., Mench, J. A. 2002; 43 (3): 355-363


    1. The gait scoring system for broilers developed by Kestin et al. (Veterinary Record, 131: 190-194, 1992) has been widely used to evaluate leg problems. The many factors and measures associated with this scale have empirically established its external (biological) validity. However, published test-retest (within-observer) reliabilities are poor, and inter-observer reliabilities are unknown. We evaluated several modifications to this scale aimed at improving its objectivity and reliability. 2. Eighteen naïve observers scored a standardised video of birds exhibiting varying degrees of lameness, either using Kestin et al.'s system, or our modified system. 3. Test-retest reliability (0.906) for Kestin et al.'s system was higher than previously reported. Inter-rater reliability was also good (0.892). The modified system offered significantly better test-retest (0.948) and inter-rater reliabilities (0.943), without incurring costs in terms of time taken or difficulty of use. The systems were consistent, assigning individual birds the same score on average. 4. It is concluded that the modified system offers the advantages of reduced error within and between studies. 5. In a second experiment, we used our modified scoring system to examine the relationship between tibial dyschondroplasia (TD) and gait score in 267 selected broilers. 6. Neither the presence nor severity of TD affected gait score, suggesting that, at least in this strain of broilers, other leg problems like slipped tendons or torsional deformities had more influence on gait impairment than did TD.

    View details for DOI 10.1080/00071660120103620

    View details for Web of Science ID 000177314500003

    View details for PubMedID 12195794

  • Adult attachment and the defensive regulation of attention and memory: Examining the role of preemptive and postemptive defensive processes 107th Annual Convention of the American-Psychological-Association Fraley, R. C., Garner, J. P., Shaver, P. R. AMER PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOC. 2000: 816–26


    Previous research has found that avoidant adults have more difficulty recalling emotional experiences than do less avoidant adults. It is unclear, however, whether such findings reflect differences in the degree to which avoidant adults (a) attend to and encode emotional information, (b) elaborate emotional information they have encoded, or (c) do both. Two studies were conducted to distinguish between the effects of these processes. Participants listened to an interview about attachment-related issues and were asked to recall details from the interview either immediately or at variable delays. An analysis of forgetting curves revealed that avoidant adults initially encoded less information about the interview than did nonavoidant adults, although avoidant and nonavoidant adults forgot the information they did encode at the same rate. The implications of these findings for current views on the nature and efficacy of defenses are discussed.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000165096200010

    View details for PubMedID 11079243

  • Arable habitat use by wood mice (Apodemus sylvaticus). 3. A farm-scale experiment on the effects of crop rotation JOURNAL OF ZOOLOGY MacDonald DW, Tew TE, Todd IA, Garner JP, Johnson PJ 2000; 250: 313-320
  • On the origins of birds: the sequence of character acquisition in the evolution of avian flight PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES Garner, J. P., Taylor, G. K., Thomas, A. L. 1999; 266 (1425): 1259-1266
  • On the origins of birds: the sequence of character acquisition in the evolution of avian flight PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES Garner JP, Taylor GK, Thomas ALR 1999; 266 (1425): 1259-1266
  • Are birds dinosaurs? TRENDS IN ECOLOGY & EVOLUTION Thomas, A. L., Garner, J. P. 1998; 13 (4): 129-130

    View details for Web of Science ID 000072744200001

    View details for PubMedID 21238228

  • Assesing animal priorities: future directions Animal Behaviour Mason G, Garner JP, McFarland D 1998; 55: 1082-1083
  • A demanding task: using economic techniques to assess animal priorities ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR Mason G, McFarland D, Garner JP 1998; 55: 1071-1075
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