With a long-standing interest in hearing research, Harwell has developed a sophisticated platform which measures very subtle deficits in mouse hearing. In combination with ophthalmology, these tests reveal the sensory profile of the mouse line being studies.
As sensory inputs in the mouse can have key effects on a wide range of other phenotypes, we routinely establish the integrity of these systems prior to any in-depth neurological studies.
We have a range of equipment that enables us to examine the eye in detail. This includes a slit lamp and an opthalmoscope to observe the front and the back of the eye. In addition, we also have an Optical Coherence Tomography set up. The OCT allows us to image both the front and the back of the eye in much more detail, so that we can capture images of the fundus and annotate the retinal layers as well. We are also able to recreate 3-dimensional images of the eye to enable visualisation of abnormalities.
In order to examine the hearing range of the mice in detail, we perform the Auditory Brainstem Response test on anaesthetised mice. Sound tones of increasing volume at different frequencies are played via a speaker and the electrical activity of the brain is then recorded. A specific waveform is elicited in response to sound and this helps us to determine the threshold at which a mouse can hear a particular frequency.