A Room with a View and a Polarizing Cue: Individual Differences in the Stimulus Control of Place Navigation and Passive Latent Learning in the Water Maze

Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study, George Mason University, Mail Stop 2A1, Fairfax, Virginia 22030-4444, USA.
Neurobiology of Learning and Memory (Impact Factor: 3.65). 08/2002; 78(1):79-99. DOI: 10.1006/nlme.2001.4057
Source: PubMed


We investigated individual differences in the stimulus control of navigational behavior in the water maze by comparing measures of place learning in one environment to measures of latent learning (via passive placement on the goal platform) in a novel environment. In the first experiment, 12 rats were trained to find a slightly submerged hidden platform at a fixed location in room A for 10 days (4 trials/day). Fast and slow place learners were identified by their mean escape latency and cumulative distance to the goal during acquisition. The same animals were then given a 2-min passive placement on the submerged platform in room B. Latent learning was assessed by the animal's escape latency on a single swim trial immediately following the placement in room B. The results showed that the good latent learners in room B were not necessarily the fast place learners in room A. This weak correlation may be related to the fact that some rats swam near the area in room B that corresponded to the former goal location in room A relative to a common polarizing cue (i.e., the door/entrance to both rooms). When the view of the door was blocked in a second experiment a significant positive correlation between place acquisition and the latent learning test was obtained, although escape performance following passive placement was not improved. These findings suggest that while place navigation and latent learning via passive placement may involve some common cognitive-spatial function, other associative (S-S and/or S-R) processes that occur during place navigation/active movement may be required for animals to exhibit truly accurate navigational behavior characteristic of asymptotic escape performance in the water maze. Additional implications for neurobiological studies using a procedural pretraining design are discussed.

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    • "For now, it is important to recognize that it is the modulation of the memory of the weakly encoded event that would be the aim of such a protocol. Placement of the rat on the platform is ordinarily insufficient for learning in a watermaze; however, we have seen that when done in the context of a daily protocol that usually involves swimming to the platform, it seems that the rats do process information about location while on the escape platform even though they have not swum there on that trial (Devan et al. 2002). Such a memory is detectable 30 min later in a standard swimming probe test, but is weak in the sense that it decays to Figure 5. Comparable monotonic rates of forgetting of one-trial place memory in the watermaze and the event arena DMP tasks. "
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    ABSTRACT: The watermaze delayed matching-to-place (DMP) task was modified to include probe trials, to quantify search preference for the correct place. Using a zone analysis of search preference, a gradual decay of one-trial memory in rats was observed over 24 h with weak memory consistently detected at a retention interval of 6 h, but unreliably at 24 h. This forgetting function in the watermaze was similar to that found using a search-preference measure in a food-reinforced dry-land DMP task in a previous study. In a search for strong and weak encoding conditions, essential for a later behavioral tagging study, three encoding trials gave strong 6-h and 24-h memory when trials were separated by 10 min (spaced training) but not 15 sec (massed training). The use of six encoding trials gave good 6-h memory with both spaced and massed training. With respect to weak encoding, placement on the escape platform, instead of the rat swimming to it, resulted in detectable memory at 30 min but this had faded to chance within 24 h. In contrast to the search-preference measure, latencies to cross the correct place revealed neither the gradual forgetting of place memory nor the benefit of spaced training.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2014 · Learning & memory (Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.)
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    • "For example, the water maze place navigation task (Morris, 1981) is considered to be an allocentric spatial problem, however correct solution probably requires some computation of body position that is continually updated as an animal moves through the maze environment. Indeed , viewing distal cues while moving through the water maze (Sutherland, Chew, Baker, & Linggard, 1987) rather than passive viewing from the goal platform (Devan, Blank, & Petri, 1992; Devan et al., 2002), is essential to place navigation performance. Prefrontal circuits may serve to integrate converging inputs from the hippocampus and posterior parietal cortex, and contribute to the planning of spatial movements (Poucet, 1993; Poucet & Benhamou, 1997). "
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    ABSTRACT: Although evidence suggests that the dorsal striatum contributes to multiple learning and memory functions, there nevertheless remains considerable disagreement on the specific associative roles of different neuroanatomical subregions. We review evidence indicating that the dorsolateral striatum (DLS) is a substrate for stimulus-response habit formation - incremental strengthening of simple S-R bonds - via input from sensorimotor neocortex while the dorsomedial striatum (DMS) contributes to behavioral flexibility - the cognitive control of behavior - via prefrontal and limbic circuits engaged in relational and spatial information processing. The parallel circuits through dorsal striatum interact with incentive/affective motivational processing in the ventral striatum and portions of the prefrontal cortex leading to overt responding under specific testing conditions. Converging evidence obtained through a detailed task analysis and neurobehavioral assessment is beginning to illuminate striatal subregional interactions and relations to the rest of the mammalian brain.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2011 · Neurobiology of Learning and Memory
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    • "In our opinion, obtaining more robust place navigation is more likely to be achieved through identification of the basic factors related to stimulus control that differentiate place and directional responding. A better understanding of place and directional navigation in the water task, and the shift from one to the other, will benefit from studies using cue-controlled environments (Devan et al., 2002; Prados & Trobalon, 1998; Rodrigo, Chamizo, McLaren, & Mackintosh , 1997) to address questions regarding how distal stimuli control these forms of navigation as well as how one comes to predominate another. Of course, the preference for place navigation observed in the full-pool variant of the water task may be related to the fact that more of the distal cue environment is visible compared to when the pool is a prominent cue (Hamilton et al., 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: Previous work from our laboratory has demonstrated that rats display a preference for directional responding over place navigation in a wide range of procedural variants of the Morris water task (Hamilton, Akers, Weisend, & Sutherland, 2007; Hamilton et al., 2008). A preference for place navigation has only been observed when the pool is reduced as a cue by filling it with water. Studies using dry land mazes have suggested that rats place navigate early in training and later switch to other forms of responding (e.g., motor). The present study evaluated whether rats switch from place navigation to directional responding in the "full-pool" variant of the water task. Rats were given 12, 24, or 36 hidden platform training trials. Probe trials with the pool repositioned in the room revealed a preference for place navigation in rats given 12 trials, an equal division of response preferences in rats given 24 trials, and a preference for directional responding in rats given 36 trials. These results indicate that the early preference for place navigation in the full-pool water task is transient and yields to a preference for directional responding with continued training.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2009 · Journal of Experimental Psychology Animal Behavior Processes
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