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Rapid task acquisition of spatial-delayed alternation in an automated T-maze by mice


Rapid task acquisition of spatial-delayed alternation in an automated T-maze by mice



Behavioural Brain Research 225(1): 56-62



ISSN/ISBN: 0166-4328

PMID: 21741996

DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2011.06.032

The spatial-delayed alternation task using a T-maze is the standard method for testing working memory in rodents and is widely used. Until now, however, there has been a gap in the understanding of the underlying brain mechanisms. The development of new manganese-enhanced brain imaging methods now permit a more specific examination of these mechanisms by allowing behavioural brain stimulation to take place outside the MRI scanner and the scan identifying the activation of specific brain regions to take place subsequently. The requirements for this method are a frequent repetition of the behaviour of interest, a control group that differs in only one task parameter and the minimization of unspecific environmental factors to avoid irrelevant stimulation. To meet these requirements, a fully automated spatial-delayed alternation task in a T-maze was developed that used identity detectors and automated gates to route mice individually from their social home cage to the T-maze. An experimental and a control group of mice were trained in procedures that differed only in the parameter "working-memory based alternation". Our data demonstrate that both groups can be trained concurrently with a rapid procedure using the automated T-maze. With its high level of stimulation, the minimization of unspecific stimulation through environmental factors and the simultaneous training of a control group that differs in only one task parameter our set-up and procedure met the requirements of new imaging techniques for the study of the influence of a specific cognitive component of spatial-delayed alternation on activity in specific brain regions.

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