UNIT 8.26 Automated Three-Chambered Social Approach Task for Mice

  1. Mu Yang,
  2. Jill L. Silverman,
  3. Jacqueline N. Crawley

Published Online: 1 JUL 2011

DOI: 10.1002/0471142301.ns0826s56

Current Protocols in Neuroscience

Current Protocols in Neuroscience

How to Cite

Yang, M., Silverman, J. L. and Crawley, J. N. 2011. Automated Three-Chambered Social Approach Task for Mice. Current Protocols in Neuroscience. 56:8.26:8.26.1–8.26.16.

Author Information

  1. Laboratory of Behavioral Neuroscience, National Institute of Mental Health, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 JUL 2011
  2. Published Print: JUL 2011


Autism is diagnosed by three major symptom categories: unusual reciprocal social interactions, impaired communication, and repetitive behaviors with restricted interests. Direct social approach in mice has strong face validity to simple social approach behaviors in humans, which are frequently impaired in autism. This unit presents a basic protocol for a standardized, high-throughput social approach test for assaying mouse sociability. Our automated three-chambered social approach task quantifies direct social approach behaviors when a subject mouse is presented with the choice of spending time with either a novel mouse or a novel object. Sociability is defined as the subject mouse spending more time in the chamber containing the novel target mouse than in the chamber containing the inanimate novel object. The Basic Protocol describes procedures for testing one subject at a time in a single apparatus. A Support Protocol addresses data collection. Curr. Protoc. Neurosci. 56:8.26.1-8.26.16. © 2011 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


  • autism;
  • social behaviors;
  • sociability;
  • social approach;
  • three-chambered task;
  • mouse models;
  • automated behavioral test