This test is used to assess memory for interactions with novel conspecifics. Mice and rats tend to spend more time interacting with a novel mouse or rat versus one they have previously encountered. The basic measure is the amount of time the subject spends with either a completely novel animal or an animal to which they have been introduced in a previous session.
The subject is habituated to the test chamber and allowed to freely explore for a set time. A novel animal is placed in one of the two enclosures, and the percentage of time the mouse spends in the section with the novel animal is compared to the time spent in the section with the empty enclosure. If social recognition is of interest, in a third portion of the session, the time spent with the same animal might be compared to time spent with a newer, more novel animal.