Object familiarization and novel-object preference in rats

Behav Processes. 2010 Jan;83(1):61-71. doi: 10.1016/j.beproc.2009.10.003. Epub 2009 Oct 27.


We investigated whether object familiarization was related to novel-object preference in the novel-object preference (NOP) test in rats. In Experiment 1, we found that no significant correlation existed between the time spent investigating 2 identical copies of a sample object and the degree of preference for a novel object. In Experiment 2, rats investigated 2 identical sample objects for a total of 5, 30, 60, 90 or 120s. Investigatory preference for the novel object was compared to chance expectancy as well as between the groups. Only the 90-s group and the 120-s group displayed above-chance investigatory preference for the novel object, but novel-object preference for these 2 groups did not differ from each other, suggesting that a minimal amount of sample object investigation is necessary for rats to develop a novel-object preference, beyond which no increase in novel-object preference was found. In Experiments 3 and 4, normal rats and rats with hippocampal lesions were given repeated test trials, with the same sample object presented with a different novel object, at 24-h and (Experiment 3) and 35-s intervals (Experiment 4). In both experiments, novel-object preference did not increase in magnitude with repeated sample object exposures, suggesting that increased familiarity with the sample object does not result in increased novel-object preference. Rats with lesions of the dorsal hippocampus showed an unreliable investigatory preference for the novel object. These results are discussed in terms of the potential limitations of the NOP test as a tool for the assessment of object-recognition memory in rats.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Exploratory Behavior*
  • Habituation, Psychophysiologic
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Male
  • Memory
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Recognition, Psychology
  • Social Behavior