Extending the spontaneous preference test of recognition: evidence of object-location and object-context recognition

Behav Brain Res. 1999 Mar;99(2):191-200. doi: 10.1016/s0166-4328(98)00079-5.


The natural preference for novel objects which is displayed by rats has been used as a behavioural index to test object recognition. In this series of experiments the standard spontaneous recognition task was extended to look at other types of recognition memory; memory for place (recognition that an object is in a location where previously there had been no object), memory for object in place (recognition that a specific object has changed position with another object) and memory for context (recognition that a familiar object is in a context different to that in which it was previously encountered). We also included a standard test of object recognition in which successful discrimination relied primarily on visual cues. In addition, we looked at how the differential exploration of objects varied within the 3 min of the test phase. The results showed that rats were sensitive to the changes made in all of the test conditions and that the level of discrimination varied within the 3 min test phase. In the standard condition and the context condition, the first 2 min were found to be the most sensitive period. In the two conditions involving a position change, discrimination was only evident in the first minute.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cues
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology
  • Exploratory Behavior / physiology
  • Handling, Psychological
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology
  • Rats
  • Smell / physiology
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Touch / physiology