The present experiments compared the effects of aging on learning several hippocampus- and striatum-sensitive tasks in young (3–4 month) and old (24–28 month) male Fischer-344 rats. Across three sets of tasks, aging was accompanied not only by deficits on hippocampal tasks but also by maintained or even enhanced abilities on striatal tasks. On two novel object recognition tasks, rats showed impaired performance on a hippocampal object location task but enhanced performance on a striatal object replacement task. On a dual solution task, young rats predominately used hippocampal solutions and old rats used striatal solutions. In addition, on two maze tasks optimally solved using either hippocampus-sensitive place or striatum-sensitive response strategies, relative to young rats, old rats had impaired learning on the place version but equivalent learning on the response version. Because glucose treatments can reverse deficits in learning and memory across many tasks and contexts, levels of available glucose in the brain may have particular importance in cognitive aging observed across tasks and memory systems. During place learning, training-related rises in extracellular glucose levels were attenuated in the hippocampus of old rats compared to young rats. In contrast, glucose levels in the striatum increased comparably in young and old rats trained on either the place or response task. These extracellular brain glucose responses to training paralleled the impairment in hippocampus-sensitive learning and the sparing of striatum-sensitive learning seen as rats age, suggesting a link between age-related changes in learning and metabolic substrate availability in these brain regions.
- Object recognition
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Behavioral Neuroscience