Interlaboratory comparison of motor activity experiments: Implications for neurotoxicological assessments

  • K.M. Crofton, J.L. Howard, V.C. Moser, M.W. Gill, L.W. Reiter, H.A. Tilson, R.C. MacPhail
  • Neurotoxicology and Teratology, November 1991, Elsevier
  • DOI: 10.1016/0892-0362(91)90043-v

Motor Activity Testing and Neurotoxicity

What is it about?

Motor activity is an important functional measure used in neurotoxicology. The effects of chemicals on motor activity, however, may depend on variables such as type of measurement apparatus, physical and environmental testing conditions, and many other experimental protocol and organismic variables. Due to the increasing use of motor activity in neurotoxicology, a major question concerns the potential for differences in experimental findings due to variations in sensitivity and reliability between different laboratories and devices used to measure motor activity. This study examined historical data from a number of laboratories that employed different devices and experimental protocols to measure motor activity. The analyses indicated that there was a relatively restricted range of within-laboratory variability and reliability in control values, and that these ranges were comparable across laboratories. Similar profiles of habituation were also seen across the different laboratories. Moreover, in virtually every case, all laboratories were capable of detecting qualitatively similar changes in motor activity following acute exposure to a variety of chemicals.

Why is it important?

In summary, this study demonstrates that motor activity measurements taken in different laboratories under disparate testing conditions are reliable, reproducible, and sensitive to a variety of chemical agents. The data presented here suggest that the specifics of device design may not be the most important variable in motor activity testing. Rather, well-defined standardized testing conditions within a laboratory appear to be of paramount importance in reducing within and between experimental error. Finally, we thoroughly encourage similar retrospective analyses for other measures of nervous system function likely to be routinely used to assess the neurotoxic potential of chemicals.

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