Animal Cognition

, Volume 15, Issue 5, pp 771–782 | Cite as

Changing within-trial array location and target object position enhances rats’ (Rattus norvegicus) missing object recognition accuracy

  • Marium Arain
  • Varakini Parameswaran
  • Jerome Cohen
Original Paper


Six rats were trained to find a previously missing target or ‘jackpot’ object in a square array of four identical or different objects (the test segment of a trial) after first visiting and collecting sunflower seeds from under the other three objects (the study segment of a trial). During training, objects’ local positions within the array and their global positions within the larger foraging array were varied over trials but were not changed between segments within a trial. Following this training, rats were tested on their accuracy for finding the target object when a trial’s test array was sometimes moved to a different location in the foraging arena or when the position of the target object within the test array had been changed. Either of these manipulations initially slightly reduced rats’ accuracy for finding the missing object but then enhanced it. Relocating test arrays of identical objects enhanced rats’ performance only after 10-min inter-segment intervals (ISIs). Relocating test arrays of different objects enhanced rats’ performance only after 2-min ISIs. Rats also improved their performance when they encountered the target object in a new position in test arrays of different objects. This enhancement effect occurred after either 2- or 30-min ISIs. These findings suggest that rats separately retrieved a missing (target) object’s spatial and non-spatial information when they were relevant but not when they were irrelevant in a trial. The enhancement effects provide evidence for rats’ limited retrieval capacity in their visuo-spatial working memory.


Visuo-spatial working memory Missing object recognition Rats (Rattus norvegicus



Experiments from the present study served as the first two authors’ B.Sc. Honour’s theses in partial fulfillment for their B. Sc. degrees from the University of Windsor. Funding for this study came from a discovery grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada to the third author. The authors gratefully acknowledge the critical review of the manuscript by WA Roberts, University of Western Ontario. All procedures in this study were approved by the Animal Care Committee of the University of Windsor and comply with mandated regulations of the Canadian Council on Animal Care.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marium Arain
    • 1
  • Varakini Parameswaran
    • 1
  • Jerome Cohen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WindsorWindsorCanada

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