Hippocampal lesions and discrimination performance of mice in the radial maze: sparing or impairment depending on the representational demands of the task

Hippocampus. 2003;13(2):197-211. doi: 10.1002/hipo.10055.


The effects of ibotenate hippocampal lesions on discrimination performance in an eight-arm radial maze were investigated in mice, using a three-stage paradigm in which the only parameter that varied among stages was the way the arms were presented. In the initial learning phase (stage 1), animals learned the valence or reward contingency associated with six (three positive and three negative) adjacent arms of the maze using a successive (go/no-go) discrimination procedure. In the first test phase (stage 2), the six arms were grouped into three pairs, so that on each trial, the subject was faced with a choice between two adjacent arms of opposite valence (concurrent two-choice discrimination). In the second test phase (stage 3), the subject was faced with all six arms simultaneously (six-choice discrimination). Hippocampal-lesioned mice acquired the initial learning phase at a near-normal rate but behaved as if they had learned nothing when challenged with the two-choice discriminations at stage 2. In contrast, they behaved normally when confronted with the six-choice discrimination at stage 3. Detailed examination of within- and between-stage performance suggests that hippocampal-lesioned mice perform as intact mice when presentation of the discriminanda encourages the storage and use of separate representations (i.e., in initial learning and six-choice discrimination testing), but that they fail in test situations that involve explicit comparisons between such separate representations (two-choice discriminations), hence requiring the use of relational representations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology*
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists / toxicity
  • Hippocampus / anatomy & histology
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Ibotenic Acid / toxicity
  • Maze Learning / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Stereotaxic Techniques


  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists
  • Ibotenic Acid