Habituation of exploratory activity in mice: a screening test for memory enhancing drugs

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1982;78(4):346-52. doi: 10.1007/BF00433739.


The habituation of exploratory activity was investigated as an experimental model of memory processes. Mice were given two sessions in a simple photo-cell activity cage and the decrease in activity at the second session (habituation) served as an index of retention. Retention decreased as the interval between sessions increased from 1 to 7 days. Retention was facilitated or impaired by post-session. IP injections of several drugs known respectively to improve [(+)-amphetamine, nicotine, physostigmine, strychnine] or impair (chlordiazepoxide, chlorpromazine, scopolamine) memory in other animal models. Memory facilitation or impairment only occurred if administration of the enhancing or impairing agent closely followed the first session, suggesting that the consolidation period was of limited duration. Post-session administration of presumably rewarding or noxious stimuli did not affect retention. Finally, retention was enhanced by several drugs which are used clinically for the treatment of memory disorders (bromocriptine, dihydroergotoxine, meclofenoxate, naftidrofuryl and piracetam). These results, consistent with classical learning data, suggest that habituation of exploratory activity in mice provides a simple but valid model of memory processes suitable for the screening of memory enhancing drugs.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Exploratory Behavior / drug effects*
  • Habituation, Psychophysiologic / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Memory / drug effects*
  • Mice
  • Models, Psychological
  • Reinforcement, Psychology
  • Time Factors