Knowing which and knowing what: a potential mouse model for age-related human declarative memory decline

Eur J Neurosci. 1999 Sep;11(9):3312-22. doi: 10.1046/j.1460-9568.1999.00741.x.


The present study was built on the original report of Eichenbaum et al. [Eichenbaum, H., Fagan, A., Mathews, P. & Cohen, N.J. (1988), Behav. Neurosci., 102, 3531-3542] on the contrasting effects of fornix lesion in different versions of an odour-guided discrimination task in rats, and attempted to extend this into a mouse model for the preferential loss of declarative memory seen in human senescence. Each of the two experiments reported here consisted of a two-stage paradigm, with an initial learning phase followed by a test phase. The information acquired in the first stage was identical in both experiments, i.e. the valence or reward contingency associated with six (three positive and three negative) arms of a radial maze. The only parameter which was varied between Experiment A and B, and also between the two successive stages within each experiment, was the way of presenting the arms to the mice, i.e. either in pairs (simultaneous discriminations) or one at a time (successive go : no-go discrimination). Performance in the first stage demonstrated that our aged mice were impaired in learning concurrent simultaneous discriminations but not successive go/no-go discrimination, thereby resembling that reported in rats with hippocampal damage. Most importantly, our present set of data supports the conclusion that two forms of memory expression for the same piece of acquired experience can be assessed in the same subjects by manipulating the way of presenting two arms that were previously experienced separately. These two forms of memory expressions are differentially affected in aged mice, thereby demonstrating the highly selective and specific deleterious effect of ageing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Maze Learning / physiology
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Models, Neurological