Learning large-scale spatial relationships in a maze and effects of MK-801 on retrieval in the rhesus monkey

Dev Neurobiol. 2007 Nov;67(13):1731-41. doi: 10.1002/dneu.20547.


Monkeys have strong abilities to remember the visual properties of potential food sources for survival in the nature. The present study demonstrated the first observations of rhesus monkeys learning to solve complex spatial mazes in which routes were guided by visual cues. Three monkeys were trained in a maze (6 m x 6 m) included of four different mazes. We recorded the cue and cup errors, latencies, and pathway for each trial. The data showed that monkeys learned the target place after three days in the first maze and spent a shorter time in learning the following mazes. The maze was an efficient method to measure the ability and proceeding of spatial memory in monkeys. Moreover, working memory can also be tested by using the maze. MK-801 at 0.02 mg/kg but not at 0.005 mg/kg impaired monkeys' retrieval of spatial memory after they learned all four mazes. The present maze may provide an efficient method to help bridging the gap in cognition between nonhuman primates and humans, and in particular to gain insight into human cognitive function and dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dizocilpine Maleate / pharmacology*
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / drug effects
  • Maze Learning / physiology*
  • Memory / drug effects
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Spatial Behavior / drug effects
  • Spatial Behavior / physiology*


  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists
  • Dizocilpine Maleate