Assessing Vision in Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease: Introducing the Visual-stimuli Four-arm Maze

June 3, 2024

Assessing Vision in Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease: Introducing the Visual-stimuli Four-arm Maze

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In an innovative study published on Pubmed (January 2021), researchers have unveiled a novel tool for examining visual impairments in mouse models of aging and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The Visual-stimuli Four-arm Maze (ViS4M) leverages the natural exploratory behavior of mice to assess their color and contrast vision. This breakthrough device holds significant promise for understanding how neurodegenerative diseases affect vision and cognition.

Led by Jean-Philippe Vit and colleagues, the research team developed the ViS4M, an x-shaped maze equipped with spectrally- and intensity-controlled LED emitters and dynamic grayscale objects. This tool is designed to evaluate visual impairments by measuring how mice navigate different light and contrast environments. The maze’s design allows for precise assessment of color vision by creating environments with distinct chromaticity and luminance. Additionally, grayscale objects placed in the maze provide a way to test contrast sensitivity against the maze’s black walls and white floors.

The study revealed significant findings, particularly in transgenic APPSWE/PS1∆E9 mice (AD+ mice). These mice exhibited substantial deficits in color and contrast vision even when their hippocampal-based memory and learning remained intact, suggesting early visual impairments similar to those observed in AD patients. Aged wild-type (WT) mice also showed transition deficits, though without a decline in alternation behavior, indicating age-related changes in vision. The researchers meticulously tracked the exploratory behavior, entry sequences, and transition patterns of the mice, providing comprehensive data on their visual and cognitive functions.

The ViS4M test is a powerful tool for profiling visual and cognitive impairments in mouse models. It offers precise measurements of color and contrast vision, which can significantly enhance our understanding of the progression of neurodegenerative diseases and aging. This tool opens new avenues for exploring the early stages of visual impairment in Alzheimer’s disease, potentially leading to earlier diagnosis and intervention strategies.

The introduction of the ViS4M test represents a significant advancement in the study of neurodegenerative diseases. By enabling detailed assessments of visual impairments, this tool provides valuable insights into the effects of aging and Alzheimer’s disease on vision and cognition. As researchers continue to utilize and refine this tool, we can expect to uncover more about the intricate relationships between visual and cognitive functions in health and disease.

For more details, you can read the full study on Pubmed.