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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2012 Jan;36(1):379-403. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2011.07.008. Epub 2011 Jul 22.

The appetitively motivated "cognitive" holeboard: a family of complex spatial discrimination tasks for assessing learning and memory.

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  • 1Program Emotion & Cognition, Department of Farm Animal Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, P.O. Box 80151, 3508 TD Utrecht, The Netherlands. F.J.vanderStaay@UU.NL


Spatial learning and memory tasks have captured a solid position in neuroscience research. A variety of holeboard-type tasks are suitable for investigating the effects of a broad range of experimental manipulations on spatial learning and memory in a broad range of species, including fish, rodents, cats, pigs, tupaias, and humans. We summarize the concepts and procedures underlying tests of spatial discrimination learning, with special emphasis on holeboard-type tasks and task-specific characteristics. Holeboard-type tasks enable a broad range of mnemonic and cognitive variables to be measured in parallel, including cognitive processes such as habituation processes, spatial working and reference memory, and search strategies, but also non-cognitive variables, such as exploration, anxiety-related behavior, and stereotypies. These tasks are sensitive to a large number of naturally occurring differences (e.g. strain differences and age effects) and to the effects of non-genetic (e.g. specific brain lesions, stress, treatment with cognition impairers or cognition enhancers) and genetic experimental manipulations. In conclusion, holeboard-type tasks provide powerful tools to investigate multiple aspects of spatial orientation behavior in the same experimental setup. Cross-species comparison of holeboard performance shows the potential for translational studies.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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