Estrogen improves working but not reference memory and prevents amnestic effects of scopolamine of a radial-arm maze

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1999 Apr;62(4):711-7. doi: 10.1016/s0091-3057(98)00219-6.


This study investigated the effect of estrogen treatment on working memory and reference memory of female rats. In addition, the impact of estrogen on the sensitivity of these two types of memory to the cholinergic antagonist scopolamine was investigated. At 35 days of ages, rats were ovariectomized and implanted chronically with Silastic capsules containing either 25% crystalline estradiol or 100% cholesterol. Thirty days after surgery, animals were trained on an eight-arm radial maze with four arms baited to assess both working and reference memory performance. Following training, females were given scopolamine hydrobromide (0.2 mg/kg i.p.) prior to retesting on the task. Results indicated that estrogen treatment improved working memory performance during maze acquisition but did not affect reference memory performance. Scopolamine treatment impaired performance on the working memory component, but not the reference memory component, while estrogen prevented the impairment of working memory by scopolamine. Results support previous evidence that estrogen selectively enhances performance on tasks that depend on working memory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amnesia / chemically induced
  • Amnesia / prevention & control*
  • Animals
  • Estradiol / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Maze Learning / drug effects*
  • Memory / drug effects*
  • Memory, Short-Term / drug effects*
  • Muscarinic Antagonists*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Scopolamine*


  • Muscarinic Antagonists
  • Estradiol
  • Scopolamine