The effects of phenytoin on the performance of rats in a delayed match-to-place task

Integr Physiol Behav Sci. 2005 Jan-Mar;40(1):17-27. doi: 10.1007/BF02734185.


We have shown previously that phenytoin impairs learning in rats in several different behavioral paradigms (Churchill et al., 1998, 2003; Banks et al., 1999). The present study has examined this drug's effects on performance in a delayed match-to-place water maze paradigm developed by Steele and Morris (1999). We find that phenytoin retards performance, but only when the inter-trial interval (ITI) is short (i.e., 15-sec). With longer ITIs (i.e., 20-min, 2-hr), the performance of the phenytoin-treated rats was quite comparable to the controls. We suggest that this pattern of results stems from a disruption of spatial working memory, perhaps due to the effects of the drug on hippocampal function (cf., Churchill et al., 1998, 2003). This disruption is, however, not so profound that consolidation is prevented.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticonvulsants / pharmacology*
  • Avoidance Learning / drug effects
  • Conditioning, Operant / drug effects
  • Discrimination Learning / drug effects*
  • Escape Reaction / drug effects
  • Frontal Lobe / drug effects
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / drug effects*
  • Orientation / drug effects*
  • Phenytoin / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reaction Time / drug effects
  • Retention, Psychology / drug effects*


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Phenytoin