Evaluation of spatial memory of C57BL/6J and CD1 mice in the Barnes maze, the Multiple T-maze and in the Morris water maze

Behav Brain Res. 2009 Mar 2;198(1):58-68. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2008.10.029. Epub 2008 Oct 31.


Evaluation of spatial learning and memory is mainly carried out using the Morris water maze as a single paradigm. We intended to test whether mice in the Barnes maze and Multiple T-maze would lead to comparable results and to test two individual mouse strains with different anxiety levels. C57BL/6J and CD1 male mice were used in the experiments. During the acquisition phase, learning was measured using parameters latency, path length, errors in the BM and correct decisions in MTM. Mice were trained for 4 days and probe trials were performed on days 5 and 12. Latencies reduction over the training period indicated that both strains learned all tasks. During retention phase at days 5 and 12 C57BL/6J performed the Barnes maze and Multiple T-maze task better than CD1 mice while CD1 performed better than C57BL/6J in the Morris water maze. In the BM at day 12, C57BL/6J kept the level of visits to target observed at day 5 whereas CD1 performed worse. Strain- and task-dependent differences were observed using the three mazes. Therefore, fair evaluation of spatial memory demands application of (at least) two different test systems, a water- and a land maze. Different anxiety-related behaviour as well as stress-responses in the strains used may help to interpret the findings reported and again may propose the use of at least two mouse strains when robust evaluation of spatial memory is considered.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anxiety / physiopathology
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Escape Reaction / physiology
  • Exploratory Behavior / physiology*
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / physiology*
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Retention, Psychology / physiology
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Species Specificity
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Swimming
  • Time Factors