Cognitive Testing in Normal and Neurologically Impaired Dogs
The neurology service evaluates and diagnoses dogs with a variety of brain diseases such as epilepsy, brain tumors and encephalitis on a daily basis. Currently, we do not attempt to quantify the effect of these diseases on cognitive functions such as memory and impulse control. However, this information is potentially of great importance. For example, we would like to understand whether surgery on a particular region of the brain results in loss of cognitive function, or whether one antiepileptic drug influences cognition more than another in order to understand the side effects of such drugs in full. In order to explore whether it is possible to quantify cognition in a meaningful way, we will evaluate tests of memory, laterality and impulse control in a population of normal dogs and dogs with diseases affecting their brains to see if we can identify differences between these populations. The data will serve as a baseline to design future studies on how brain disease affects cognition in dogs.
- We will test your dog’s memory, laterality and impulse control. All tests will be run using treats as a reward. Memory will be tested by determining whether your dog can remember which of two containers has a treat hidden in it (they will watch the treat being hidden). Laterality will be tested to determining which paw your dog uses to step off a low platform, and which paw they use to hold a cylinder while retrieving a treat. Impulse control will be tested by seeing whether your dog can override learned responses. They will be given a treat in an opaque tube, and will learn that they have to retrieve it from one end of the tube. They will then be presented with the treat in a transparent tube and we will determine whether they still take it out of the end of the tube. In a similar fashion, they will be presented with a treat behind a fence, and they will need to walk around one side of the fence to retrieve the treat. The fence will then be repositioned so that they have to walk around the other side and the testing will be repeated to determine which side they move to.
- If you decide to take part in this study the total duration of participation is approximately 1 hour each time they are tested. We may test them only once, but if, for example, they are being treated for their disease while in hospital and their mental status is changing, we might ask to test them again to see if we can detect a change in cognition with treatment.
- We are recruiting normal, healthy dogs and also dogs that are patients of the neurology and behavior services with abnormalities of an area of the brain called the forebrain.
- Dogs that are afraid of people, aggressive or have other health reasons that would prevent them taking part are excluded.
- As the dogs will be given treats, dogs with restricted dietary needs may not be able to participate.
All study procedures and evaluations will be performed at no cost to you. There is no additional financial incentive to take part in this study.
Natasha Olby: 919.513.7235, email: Natasha_olby@ncsu.edu or Ms. Leonor Correira: 919.513.7235
Page last updated December 30, 2013