Exercise influences spatial learning in the radial arm maze

Physiol Behav. 2000 Sep 15;70(5):425-9. doi: 10.1016/s0031-9384(00)00282-1.


Previous studies indicate that the hippocampus is active during exercise, and that neurotrophin expression, receptor density, and survival of dentate gyrus granule cells in the hippocampus can be modified by moderate voluntary exercise. The present study was designed to test the consequences of voluntary exercise on a hippocampal-related behavior. Exercising and control rats were tested on the standard and delayed nonmatch-to-position (DNMTP) version of the eight-arm radial maze, both of which are sensitive to hippocampal damage. Voluntarily exercising rats ran in running wheels attached to their home cage for 7 weeks prior to and throughout testing, and took 30% fewer trials to acquire criterion performance than sedentary controls. Both groups spent the same average time per arm. Once the eight-arm maze had been learned to criterion, group differences were not apparent. Exercise can facilitate acquisition of a hippocampal-related spatial learning task, but does not affect performance following acquisition. Further work will be necessary to link these effects to hippocampal-related variables shown to be influenced by exercise.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Maze Learning / physiology*
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Space Perception / physiology*