Age and stress history effects on spatial performance in a swim task in Fischer-344 rats

T. R. Mabry, R. McCarty, P. E. Gold, T. C. Foster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

47 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study determined whether prior habituation to water immersion would ameliorate age-related deficits in learning and memory in a swim task. Aged (22 months) and young adult (3 months) rats were immersed in water (30°C) for 15 min on each of 28 consecutive days before training in the swim task. Additional groups of age-matched animals served as handled controls. Training on a spatial discrimination version of the water task was conducted over 5 days with two trials per day (1-h intertrial interval). A probe trial was substituted for the last trial on the fifth day to assess the rats' use of spatial information. Three days later, rats received cue discrimination training to find a visible platform. In the spatial task, prior habituation to water immersion ameliorated deficits in acquisition within each day (i.e., at a 1-h intertrial interval) but not across days (at 24 h). The results obtained with the 24-h interval confirm the rapid forgetting characteristic of aged rats in many tasks. The stress-habituation procedures reduced age- related deficits seen on the probe trial and on cue discrimination training. These findings indicate that several aspects of age-related impairments in the swim task, often attributed to primary age-related deficits in learning and memory processes per se, may instead be secondary to age-related differences in stress responses to water immersion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalNeurobiology of Learning and Memory
Volume66
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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