Cognitive dysfunction appears as a core feature of dementia, which includes its most prevalent form, Alzheimer’s disease (AD), as well as vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and other brain disorders. AD alone affects more than 45 million people worldwide, with growing prevalence in aging populations. There is no cure, and therapeutic options remain limited. Gene-edited and transgenic animal models, expressing disease-specific gene mutations, illuminate pathogenic mechanisms leading to cognitive decline in AD and other forms of dementia. To date, cognitive tests in AD mouse models have not been directly relevant to the clinical presentation of AD, providing challenges for translation of findings to the clinic. Touchscreen testing in mice has enabled the assessment of specific cognitive domains in mice that are directly relevant to impairments described in human AD patients. In this review, we provide context for how cognitive decline is measured in the clinic, describe traditional methods for assessing cognition in mice, and outline novel approaches, including the use of the touchscreen platform for cognitive testing. We highlight the limitations of traditional memory-testing paradigms in mice, particularly their capacity for direct translation into cognitive testing of patients. While it is not possible to expect direct translation in testing methodologies, we can aim to develop tests that engage similar neural substrates in both humans and mice. Ultimately, that would enable us to better predict efficacy across species and therefore improve the chances that a treatment that works in mice will also work in the clinic.
- Alzheimer’s disease