Interaction between the nature of the information and the cognitive requirement of the task in problem solving in mice

Brain Res Cogn Brain Res. 2004 Nov;21(3):289-300. doi: 10.1016/j.cogbrainres.2004.06.016.


The Morris water maze and the radial-arm maze are two of the most frequently employed behavioral tasks used to assess spatial memory in rodents. In this study, we describe two new behavioral tasks in a radial-arm water maze enabling to combine the advantages of the Morris water maze and the radial-arm maze. In both tasks, spatial and nonspatial learning was assessed and the only task parameter that varied was the nature of the information available which was either spatial (various distal extra-maze cues) or nonspatial (visual intra-maze patterns). In experiment 1, 129T2/Sv mice were able to learn three successive pairwise discriminations [(1) A+/B-, (2) B+/C-, (3) C+/A-] with the same efficiency in both modalities (i.e. spatial and nonspatial modalities). Probe-trials at the end of each of these discriminations revealed particular features of this transverse-patterning-like procedure. In experiment 2, another group of 129T2/Sv mice was submitted to a delayed matching-to-sample working memory task. Mice were able to learn the task and were then able to show resistance to temporal interference as long as 60 min in the spatial modality but they failed to acquire the task in the nonspatial modality. The fact that the nonspatial information was exactly the same in both experiments highlights the existence of an interaction between the cognitive requirements of the task and the nature of the information.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cues
  • Escape Reaction / physiology
  • Generalization, Psychological / physiology
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / physiology
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Problem Solving / physiology*
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Transfer, Psychology / physiology