Characterization of the parallel rod floor apparatus to test motor incoordination in mice

H. M. Kamens, T. J. Phillips, S. E. Holstein, J. C. Crabbe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Impairment of motor coordination, or ataxia, is a prominent effect of alcohol ingestion in humans. To date, many models have been created to examine this phenomenon in animals. Evidence suggests that the tasks thought to measure this behavior in mice actually measure different components of this complex trait. We have characterized the parallel rod floor apparatus to quantify ethanol-induced motor incoordination. Using genetically heterogeneous mice, we evaluated the influence of rod diameter and inter-rod distance on dose-related ethanol-induced motor incoordination to select parameters that optimized testing procedures. We then used the DBA/2J and C57BL/6J inbred strains of mice to examine the effect of 2 g/kg of ethanol, by serially testing mice on two floor types, separated by 1 week. Finally, we tested eight inbred strains of mice on four floor types to examine patterns of strain sensitivity to 2 g/kg of intraperitoneal ethanol and determined the test parameters that maximized strain effect size. Motor incoordination varied depending on the floor type and strain. When data from strain 129S1/SvImJ were removed from the analyses because of their extreme behavior, the greatest strain effect size was observed on one floor type during the first 10 min of testing after 2 g/kg of intraperitoneal ethanol. These findings suggest that the parallel rod floor apparatus provides a useful means for examining ethanol-induced motor incoordination in mice but that specific testing procedures are important for optimizing detection of motor incoordination and genetic influences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-266
Number of pages14
JournalGenes, Brain and Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics
  • Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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