The Effects of Nucleus Basalis Lesions in the Rat on One Way Passive and Active Avoidance, Two Way Avoidance, and Lashly III Maze Learning: An Animal Model for SDAT

  • Paschal N. Strong
  • Gary W. Arendash
Part of the Advances in Behavioral Biology book series (ABBI, volume 36)


The development of a useful animal model for senile dementia of the Alzheimer’s type (SDAT) entails a number of considerations. Among them are the following:
  1. 1.
    The choice of an appropriate organism. In choosing a candidate organism the following issues should be addressed.
    1. A.

      Are there well established neurological homologies between the model’s CNS and the human CNS?

    2. B.

      Is the model organism’s behavior well enough studied and described so that pathologies in behavior due to disease or lesions have an adequate research base for comparison to normal behavior?

    3. C.

      Is the organism’s behavior homologous to a wide variety of human behavior?

    4. D.

      Is it practical and cost efficient to use a given organism?

  2. 2.
    Once the organism has been selected, the choice of the behaviors to be studied must have a rational basis. Although this seems obvious, there are subtle nuances often overlooked. When an investigator decides that one way passive avoidance would be a good test for memory function many questions must be answered, such as:
    1. a.

      Number of pre-shock trials

    2. b.

      Number of shock trials

    3. c.

      Intensity of shock

    4. d.

      Number of spacing of post shock trials

    Variations in these parameters can lead to a wide variety of interpretations of findings. Furthermore, analysis of the data is often simplistic (such as only measuring latency of entering the shock chamber in one way passive avoidance) when a more sophisticated description and analysis of behavior would lead to more insights into the behavioral deficit. One of the goals of the research to be reported on in this chapter was to achieve a finer analysis of the avoidance behavior often used in research in Alzheimer’s disease using various animal models.
  3. 3.

    Another important decision is the use of inter-subject designs as opposed to intra-subject designs. By this we mean using different animals for each behavior investigated (inter-subject) or exposing each animal to a wide variety of tasks (intra-subject). While the former has the appeal of noncontamination of one behavior by previous experiences (use of the so called naive subject) it suffers in generalizing to human behavior since humans, and all higher organisms, have a rich variety of experiences against which pathological changes must be assessed. Furthermore, intra-subject designs are more efficient because more information is obtained per subject. Balanced against the above advantages of the intra-subject design is the necessity of determining the order of behaviors to be investigated or the controlling of them through counterbalancing procedures.



Passive Avoidance Basal Forebrain Active Avoidance Escape Latency Lesion Group 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paschal N. Strong
    • 1
  • Gary W. Arendash
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA

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