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Neurobiol Aging. 2015 Jan;36(1):323-33. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2014.06.030. Epub 2014 Jul 3.

Spatial reference memory in normal aging Fischer 344 × Brown Norway F1 hybrid rats.

Author information

1
Program in Neuroscience, Wake Forest University Graduate School, Winston-Salem, NC, USA. Electronic address: jmcquail@ufl.edu.
2
Program in Neuroscience, Wake Forest University Graduate School, Winston-Salem, NC, USA; Department of Internal Medicine, Section on Gerontology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC, USA; Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC, USA.

Abstract

Fischer 344 × Brown Norway F1 (F344 × BN-F1) hybrid rats express greater longevity with improved health relative to aging rodents of other strains; however, few behavioral reports have thoroughly evaluated cognition across the F344 × BN-F1 lifespan. Consequently, this study evaluated spatial reference memory in F344 × BN-F1 rats at 6, 18, 24, or 28 months of age in the Morris water maze. Reference memory decrements were observed between 6 and 18 months and 18 and 24 months. At 28 months, spatial learning was not worse than 24 months, but swim speed was significantly slower. Reliable individual differences revealed that ∼50% of 24- to 28-month-old rats performed similarly to 6 months, whereas others were spatial learning impaired. Aged rats were impaired at learning within daily training sessions but not impaired at retaining information between days of training. Aged rats were also slower to learn to escape onto the platform, regardless of strategy. In summary, these data clarify the trajectory of cognitive decline in aging F344 × BN-F1 rats and elucidate relevant behavioral parameters.

KEYWORDS:

Hippocampus; Hybrid rat; Individual differences; Normal aging; Procedural learning; Retention; Spatial reference memory; Working memory

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