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    A novel control condition for spatial learning in the Morris water maze

    Barry, Daniel N. and Commins, Sean (2019) A novel control condition for spatial learning in the Morris water maze. Journal of Neuroscience Methods, 318. pp. 1-5. ISSN 0165-0270

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    Background: Assessing markers of neural activity in rodent behavioural tasks benefits from meaningful comparison with matched control conditions. The Morris water maze is a widely used learning and memory task, but currently implemented control conditions are not optimal. New method: We created a novel control condition involving random escape platform placement for each trial, while increasing the frequency of platforms throughout the training period. These control rats could therefore escape the maze by swimming in a random fashion and were not required to learn a platform location. Crucially, because the number of available escape platforms increased throughout training, their escape latencies should decline in line with rats who were learning a fixed platform location. Results: No evidence of place learning was observed in this novel condition, but their swimming behaviour, including escape latency, distance and velocity were well matched to spatially-trained rats throughout training. Further, they did not display stress-related behaviour. Comparison with existing methods: We contrasted this new control condition against a frequently used control where animals swim freely in the maze and showed behaviour was more closely matched to spatially-trained animals. Conclusions: This novel control condition represents a significant advance from those currently available and may assist in the interpretation of task-related neural activity.

    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: Cite as: Daniel N. Barry, Sean Commins, A novel control condition for spatial learning in the Morris water maze, Journal of Neuroscience Methods, Volume 318, 2019, Pages 1-5, ISSN 0165-0270,
    Keywords: Morris water maze; Spatial learning; Control condition;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Science and Engineering > Psychology
    Item ID: 14189
    Identification Number:
    Depositing User: Dr. Sean Commins
    Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2021 17:15
    Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Neuroscience Methods
    Publisher: Elsevier
    Refereed: Yes
    Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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