, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 371-380

Versatile computerized system for tracking and analysis of water maze tests

Abstract

A crucial step in the estimation of properties of compounds in behavioral experiments is the quantification and description of the different effects observed. The goal of the present work was the automation of the Morris water maze test, one of the most popular behavioral methods for the study of animal memory. An original system was developed that provides fast and accurate tracking of animals, storage of the results in the database and video archive and a means of analyzing the results. This computerized version of the Morris water maze test permits the quantification of such vague characteristics of cognitive function as the “directionality” of search of the hidden platform after a standard training series. The suggestedparameters made it possible to discriminate cognitive properties of the novel compounds from other behavioral effects affecting escape latency. The effectiveness of this system was demonstrated in two experiments with neurochemically lesioned and drug-treated rats.

This research was supported by a grant from the International Science and Technology (Project 1512) and partially supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (Project 00-04-48398) and the Young Scientists Program of the Russian Academy of Sciences.