Rotarod Apparatus - Maze Engineers

Rotarod Apparatus - Maze Engineers

The Rotarod is a widely used behavioral task to assess motor performance in rodents using the natural fear of falling as motivation, manufactured by Maze Engineers.

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  • Description
  • References

Rotarod Apparatus - Maze Engineers

The Rotarod is a widely used behavioral task to assess motor performance in rodents using the natural fear of falling as motivation. The MazeEngineers  device and can be customized for speed, acceleration, and is connected and controlled using the easy to integrate Conductor Software (Free with the order).

Dividers prevent mice from entering other lanes. Minimal height & soft landing prevents harm after fall from the bar. The rod itself has horizontal ridges to help the mouse hold onto the rod.

Key Features include:

  • Eliminate run time data entry mistakes by defining entire study in advance
  • Programmable parameters include:
  • Programmable speed, acceleration, and deceleration
  • Adjust subject falling heights as your study dictates (thus an adjustable height floor that allows for multiple heights when the animal falls.
  • IR floor sensors detect true falls and logs into the Conductor Software.
  • Collect animals after completed tests with ease. The Rotarod animal compartments can be completely enclosed to prevent animals from escaping after falling from the rod with a free insert.

Sample Data

Data obtained from the Rotarod test is generally visualized by graphing the time the animals remain on the rod or the speed at which the animals fall off the rod. Both can be easily graphed and compared across the control and disease or intervention groups. The example graphs below show the effect of traumatic brain injury on the time spent on the rotating rod or on the maximum speed at which the animals are able to remain on the rod.

Using graphs similar to these to compare the time spent in the Rotarod or the speed at which the animals fall allows for easy visualization of an effect on motor performance. Animals with traumatic brain injury should spend less time in the rod and fall at a slower speed.

Strengths and Limitations

The Rotarod test allows the detection of injury-induced motor impairments at a lower level of injury than other motor performance tests, such as the beam-balance or beam-walking tests (Hamm et al 1994).

The Rotarod test is a sensitive test that allows the assessment of the effect of pharmacological interventions (Cartmell et al 1991).

By being more sensitive than other tests, fewer animals may be required in the Rotarod test to detect motor impairment induced by a disease model or intervention.

Juvenile and older animals may perform poorly at this task (Curzon et al 2009).

The latency of rodents to fall from the accelerating Rotarod can differ substantially between laboratories. These differences arise from the use of different rod diameters and surface textures, different protocols, or uncalibrated acceleration rates, for example (Bohlen et al 2009).

Summary and Key Points

  • The Rotarod test is extensively used to test motor performance
  • This test assesses the animals’ ability to remain on a rod rotating at an accelerating speed
  • Animals in brain injury or neurodegenerative disease models fall from the rotating rod faster and at a lower speed
  • This test has been adapted to assess motor skill learning and as a motor-skill training task
  • The Rotarod test has also been used to study the effects and side-effects of drugs on motor performance

Manufacturer's product card:

Cartmell SM, Gelgor L, Mitchell D. A revised rotarod procedure for measuring the effect of antinociceptive drugs on motor function in the rat. J Pharmacol Methods, 26(2):149-59 (1991).

Crawley JN. Behavioral phenotyping of transgenic and knockout mice: experimental design and evaluation of general health, sensory functions, motor abilities, and specific behavioral tests. Brain Res, 835(1):18-26 (1999).

Curzon P, Zhang M, Radek RJ, Fox GB. The Behavioral Assessment of Sensorimotor Processes in the Mouse: Acoustic Startle, Sensory Gating, Locomotor Activity, Rotarod, and Beam Walking. In: Buccafusco JJ, editor. Methods of Behavior Analysis in Neuroscience. 2nd edition. Chapter 8. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis (2009).

Deacon RM. Measuring motor coordination in mice. J Vis Exp, (75):e2609 (2013).

Jones BJ, Roberts DJ. The quantiative measurement of motor inco-ordination in naive mice using an acelerating rotarod. J Pharm Pharmacol, 20(4):302-4 (1968).

Hamm RJ, Pike BR, O’Dell DM, Lyeth BG, Jenkins LW. The rotarod test: an evaluation of its effectiveness in assessing motor deficits following traumatic brain injury. J Neurotrauma, 11(2):187-96 (1994).

Kirschbaum KM, Hiemke C, Schmitt U. Rotarod impairment: catalepsy-like screening test for antipsychotic side effects. Int J Neurosci, 119(10):1509-22 (2009).

Scholz J, Niibori Y, Frankland PW, Lerch JP. Rotarod training in mice is associated with changes in brain structure observable with multimodal MRI. Neuroimage, 107:182-9  (2015).

Shiotsuki H, Yoshimi K, Shimo Y, Funayama M, Takamatsu Y, Ikeda K, Takahashi R, Kitazawa S, Hattori N. A rotarod test for evaluation of motor skill learning. J Neurosci Methods, 189(2):180-5 (2010).

Bohlen M, Cameron A, Metten P, Crabbe JC, Wahlsten D. Calibration of rotational acceleration for the rotarod test of rodent motor coordination. J Neurosci Methods, 178(1):10-4 (2009).