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Comparative Study
, 28 (6), 928-36

Deficits Across Multiple Cognitive Domains in a Subset of Aged Fischer 344 Rats

Comparative Study

Deficits Across Multiple Cognitive Domains in a Subset of Aged Fischer 344 Rats

Candi L LaSarge et al. Neurobiol Aging.


Rodent models of cognitive aging routinely use spatial performance on the water maze to characterize medial temporal lobe integrity. Water maze performance is dependent upon this system and, as in the aged human population, individual differences in learning abilities are reliably observed among spatially characterized aged rats. However, unlike human aging in which cognitive deficits rarely occur in isolation, few non-spatial learning deficits have been identified in association with spatial impairment among aged rats. In this study, a subset of male aged Fischer 344 rats was impaired both in water maze and odor discrimination tasks, whereas other aged cohorts performed on par with young adult rats in both settings. The odor discrimination learning deficits were reliable across multiple problems. Moreover, these deficits were not a consequence of anosmia and were specific to olfactory learning, as cognitively impaired aged rats performed normally on an analogous non-olfactory discrimination task. These are among the first data to describe an aging model in which individual variability among aged rat cognition occurs across two independent behavioral domains.

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