Overview on Emotional Behavioral Testing in Rodent Models of Pediatric Epilepsy

  • Yasser Medlej
  • Houssein Salah
  • Lara Wadi
  • Sarah Saad
  • Rita Asdikian
  • Nabil Karnib
  • Dima Ghazal
  • Bashir Bashir
  • Jad Allam
  • Makram ObeidEmail author
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 2011)


Psychiatric and cognitive disturbances are the most common comorbidities of epileptic disorders in children. The successful treatment of these comorbidities faces many challenges including their etiologically heterogonous nature. Translational neurobehavioral research in age-tailored and clinically relevant rodent seizure models offers a controlled setting to investigate emotional and cognitive behavioral disturbances, their causative factors, and potentially novel treatment interventions. In this review, we propose a conceptual framework that provides a nonsubjective approach to rodent emotional behavioral testing with a focus on the clinically relevant outcome of behavioral response adaptability. We also describe the battery of neurobehavioral tests that we tailored to seizure models with prominent amygdalo-hippocampal involvement, including testing panels for anxiety-like, exploratory, and hyperactive behaviors (the open-field and light-dark box tests), depressive-like behaviors (the forced swim test), and visuospatial navigation (Morris water maze). The review also discusses the modifications we introduced to active avoidance testing in order to simultaneously test auditory and hippocampal-dependent emotionally relevant learning and memory. When interpreting the significance and clinical relevance of the behavioral responses obtained from a given testing panel, it is important to avoid a holistic disease-based approach as a specific panel may not necessarily mirror a disease entity. The analysis of measurable behavioral responses has to be performed in the context of outcomes obtained from multiple related and complementary neurobehavioral testing panels. Behavioral testing is also complemented by mechanistic electrophysiological and molecular investigations.

Key words

Emotions Cognition Behavior Rodents Epilepsy Pediatric Seizure 



Sara Saad, Bashir Bashir, and Jad Allam were involved in this research under the Medical Research Volunteer Program (MRVP) at the American University of Beirut.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yasser Medlej
    • 1
  • Houssein Salah
    • 1
  • Lara Wadi
    • 2
  • Sarah Saad
    • 3
  • Rita Asdikian
    • 1
  • Nabil Karnib
    • 1
    • 4
  • Dima Ghazal
    • 5
  • Bashir Bashir
    • 3
  • Jad Allam
    • 3
  • Makram Obeid
    • 1
    • 6
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Anatomy, Cell Biology and Physiological Sciences, Faculty of MedicineAmerican University of BeirutBeirutLebanon
  2. 2.Faculty of MedicineAmerican University of BeirutBeirutLebanon
  3. 3.Faculty of Arts and SciencesAmerican University of BeirutBeirutLebanon
  4. 4.Department of Natural Sciences, School of Arts and SciencesLebanese American UniversityByblosLebanon
  5. 5.Faculty of SciencesLebanese UniversityBeirutLebanon
  6. 6.Division of Child Neurology, Department of Pediatric and Adolescent MedicineAmerican University of Beirut Medical CenterBeirutLebanon

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