Detailed Behavioral Analysis of Water Maze Acquisition Under Systemic NMDA or Muscarinic Antagonism: Nonspatial Pretraining Eliminates Spatial Learning Deficits

Behav Neurosci. 1996 Feb;110(1):103-16.


A detailed behavioral analysis of water-maze acquisition showed that the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) antagonist NPC17742 and the muscarinic antagonist scopolamine caused sensorimotor disturbances in behaviors required for maze performances and that these correlated with acquisition impairments in both hidden and visible platform versions of the maze in male rats. Behavioral disturbances included thigmotaxic swimming, swimming over and deflecting off the platform, abnormal swim behavior, and hyperactivity. Rats familiar with the behavioral strategies involved in the task performed normally under NPC17742 or scopolamine. The results indicated that drug-induced sensorimotor disturbances contributed to poor acquisition scores in naive rats. NMDA or muscarinic activity may contribute to but do not appear to be essential for spatial learning in the water maze.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Attention / drug effects*
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Maze Learning / drug effects*
  • Mental Recall / drug effects*
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Motor Skills / drug effects
  • Muscarinic Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Orientation / drug effects*
  • Rats
  • Reaction Time / drug effects
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Retention, Psychology / drug effects
  • Scopolamine / pharmacology*


  • Amino Acids
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists
  • Muscarinic Antagonists
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • NPC 12626
  • Scopolamine