Preservation of accurate spatial memory in aged rats

Neurobiol Aging. Fall 1985;6(3):219-25. doi: 10.1016/0197-4580(85)90053-3.


Male rats were tested in an 8 arm radial maze from 6-26 months of age with 5 hr delay imposed between choices 4 and 5. At 26 months their spatial memory was more accurate than when they were first tested at 6 months and also more accurate than that exhibited by another 5 month old group tested concurrently. However, these old rats acquired a noval spatial habit more slowly than the younger animals. In a subsequent study, we compared the acquisition of accurate spatial memory by rats that were 3 or 21.5 months old at the start of training. Older rats adapted to the maze more slowly and required more sessions to achieve criterion with no delay imposed during the test. There was no reliable difference in acquisition when a 1 hr delay was imposed between choices 4 and 5, but the old rats learned more slowly with a 5 hr delay. On memory tests after criterion performance had been achieved, the older rats performed as well as the younger animals at all delay intervals. Aged rats are deficient in acquiring the skills required for accurate spatial memory, but once acquired these skills do not deteriorate. The possibility that other "memory" deficits associated with aging might be alleviated by overtraining is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Aging*
  • Animals
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Spatial Behavior