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PLoS One. 2013 May 7;8(5):e62360. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0062360. Print 2013.

A behavioral paradigm to evaluate hippocampal performance in aged rodents for pharmacological and genetic target validation.

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Department of Neurology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Medical Sciences Center, Madison, Wisconsin, United States of America.

Erratum in

  • PLoS One. 2014;9(1). doi:10.1371/annotation/50ac6b0c-19e8-43b7-833c-1aa926c51106.


Aged-related cognitive ability is highly variable, ranging from unimpaired to severe impairments. The Morris water maze (a reliable tool for assessing memory) has been used to distinguish aged rodents that are superior learners from those that are learning impaired. This task, however, is not practical for pre- and post-pharmacological treatment, as the memory of the task is long lasting. In contrast, the object location memory task, also a spatial learning paradigm, results in a less robust memory that decays quickly. We demonstrate for the first time how these two paradigms can be used together to assess hippocampal cognitive impairments before and after pharmacological or genetic manipulations in rodents. Rats were first segregated into superior learning and learning impaired groups using the object location memory task, and their performance was correlated with future outcome on this task and on the Morris water maze. This method provides a tool to evaluate the effect of treatments on cognitive impairment associated with aging and neurodegenerative disorders.

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