Animal Cognition

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 593–604 | Cite as

Memory systems in the rat: effects of reward probability, context, and congruency between working and reference memory

  • William A. Roberts
  • Nicole A. Guitar
  • Heidi L. Marsh
  • Hayden MacDonald
Original Paper


The interaction of working and reference memory was studied in rats on an eight-arm radial maze. In two experiments, rats were trained to perform working memory and reference memory tasks. On working memory trials, they were allowed to enter four randomly chosen arms for reward in a study phase and then had to choose the unentered arms for reward in a test phase. On reference memory trials, they had to learn to visit the same four arms on the maze on every trial for reward. Retention was tested on working memory trials in which the interval between the study and test phase was 15 s, 15 min, or 30 min. At each retention interval, tests were performed in which the correct WM arms were either congruent or incongruent with the correct RM arms. Both experiments showed that congruency interacted with retention interval, yielding more forgetting at 30 min on incongruent trials than on congruent trials. The effect of reference memory strength on the congruency effect was examined in Experiment 1, and the effect of associating different contexts with working and reference memory on the congruency effect was studied in Experiment 2.


Working memory Reference memory Context Radial maze Rats 



Support for this research was provided by a discovery grant to the first author from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada. Heidi L. Marsh participated in this project as an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical standard

The animals used in these experiments were maintained and tested in compliance with the regulations of the Western University Animal Care Committee and the Canadian Council on Animal Care.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • William A. Roberts
    • 1
  • Nicole A. Guitar
    • 1
  • Heidi L. Marsh
    • 1
  • Hayden MacDonald
    • 1
  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentWestern UniversityLondonCanada

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