The effects of pool shape manipulations on rat spatial memory acquired in the Morris water maze.


The Canadian Center for Behavioural Neuroscience, University of Lethbridge, 4401 University Drive, Lethbridge, Alberta, T1K 3M4, Canada. [Email]


The Morris water maze is a popular task for examining spatial navigation and memory in rats. Historically, emphasis has been put on extramaze cues as the primary environmental feature guiding navigation and spatial memory formation. However, other features of the environment may also be involved. In this experiment, we trained rats on the spatial version of the Morris water maze over four days. A probe test was given 24 h after training, in which the shape of the pool either remained the same as during training or was changed to a different shape. Mass training of a new platform position in one training session was performed in a pool of one of these two shapes, with a second probe test being done 24 h afterward. The results showed that spatial training produces a spatial preference for the trained location in the probe test when the pool shape remains the same. However, changing the shape of the pool eliminates this preference. All groups learned the new platform position during mass training and also expressed a spatial preference for the mass-trained quadrant when tested 24 h later. The results from these experiments implicate the use of pool shape in guiding spatial navigation in the water maze and as a critical environmental feature represented in spatial memory.


Head direction,Morris water task,Pool geometry,Pool shape,Spatial navigation,