[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The water maze is commonly used to assay spatial cognition, or, more generally, learning and memory in experimental rodent models. In the water maze, mice or rats are trained to navigate to a platform located below the water's surface. Spatial learning is then typically assessed in a probe test, where the platform is removed from the pool and the mouse or rat is allowed to search for it. Performance in the probe test may then be evaluated using either occupancy-based (percent time in a virtual quadrant [Q] or zone [Z] centered on former platform location), error-based (mean proximity to former platform location [P]) or counting-based (platform crossings [X]) measures. While these measures differ in their popularity, whether they differ in their ability to detect group differences is not known. To address this question we compiled five separate databases, containing more than 1600 mouse probe tests. Random selection of individual trials from respective databases then allowed us to simulate experiments with varying sample and effect sizes. Using this Monte Carlo-based method, we found that the P measure consistently outperformed the Q, Z and X measures in its ability to detect group differences. This was the case regardless of sample or effect size, and using both parametric and non-parametric statistical analyses. The relative superiority of P over other commonly used measures suggests that it is the most appropriate measure to employ in both low- and high-throughput water maze screens.
Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience 02/2009; 3:4.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In the water maze, mice are trained to navigate to an escape platform located below the water's surface, and spatial learning is most commonly evaluated in a probe test in which the platform is removed from the pool. While contemporary tracking software provides precise positional information of mice for the duration of the probe test, existing performance measures (e.g., percent quadrant time, platform crossings) fail to exploit fully the richness of this positional data. Using the concept of entropy (H), here we develop a new measure that considers both how focused the search is and the degree to which searching is centered on the former platform location. To evaluate how H performs compared to existing measures of water maze performance we compiled five separate databases, containing more than 1600 mouse probe tests. Random selection of individual trials from respective databases then allowed us to simulate experiments with varying sample and effect sizes. Using this Monte Carlo-based method, we found that H outperformed existing measures in its ability to detect group differences over a range of sample or effect sizes. Additionally, we validated the new measure using three models of experimentally induced hippocampal dysfunction: (1) complete hippocampal lesions, (2) genetic deletion of alphaCaMKII, a gene implicated in hippocampal behavioral and synaptic plasticity, and (3) a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. Together, these data indicate that H offers greater sensitivity than existing measures, most likely because it exploits the richness of the precise positional information of the mouse throughout the probe test.
Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience 01/2009; 3:33.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although the hippocampus plays a crucial role in the formation of spatial memories, as these memories mature they may become additionally (or even exclusively) dependent on extrahippocampal structures. However, the identity of these extrahippocampal structures that support remote spatial memory is currently not known. Using a Morris water-maze task, we show that the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) plays a key role in the expression of remote spatial memories in mice. To first evaluate whether the ACC is activated after the recall of spatial memory, we examined the expression of the immediate early gene, c-fos, in the ACC. Fos expression was elevated after expression of a remote (1 month old), but not recent (1 d old), water-maze memory, suggesting that ACC plays an increasingly important role as a function of time. Consistent with the gene expression data, targeted pharmacological inactivation of the ACC with the sodium channel blocker lidocaine blocked expression of remote, but spared recent, spatial memory. In contrast, inactivation of the dorsal hippocampus disrupted expression of spatial memory, regardless of its age. We further showed that inactivation of the ACC blocked expression of remote spatial memory in two different mouse strains, after training with either a hidden or visible platform in a constant location, and using the AMPA receptor antagonist CNQX. Together, our data provide evidence that circuits supporting spatial memory are reorganized in a time-dependent manner, and establish that activity in neurons intrinsic to the ACC is critical for processing remote spatial memories.
Journal of Neuroscience 08/2006; 26(29):7555-64. · 6.91 Impact Factor