Estrogen affects performance of ovariectomized rats in a two-choice water-escape working memory task

Psychoneuroendocrinology. 1996 Jan;21(1):51-65. doi: 10.1016/0306-4530(95)00032-1.


To determine if estrogen would protect treated rats from deficits in performance on a working memory task across time, 18 female 6-month-old Sprague-Dawley rats were trained to a criterion on a water-escape spatial delayed matching-to-sample problem. Following training, rats were ovariectomized, and nine were maintained on estrogen (polyestradiol-phosphate, 0.5 mg every 3 weeks) and nine on its vehicle for 200 days. After recovery from surgery, the rats were tested for performance every 6 weeks under three conditions: 5 min retention interval (RI); 30 min RI; and 30 min RI with an emotional experience during the RI. Analysis of correct choices revealed that estrogen-treated rats made more correct choices (p < .05) than controls on the 5 min undisturbed interval; estrogen tended to impair performance on the emotionally distracting interval. Estrogen apparently protected working memory on the undisturbed trials and might be pertinent to the maintenance of memory in female mammals.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Choice Behavior / drug effects*
  • Escape Reaction / drug effects*
  • Estradiol / analogs & derivatives*
  • Estradiol / pharmacology
  • Estradiol Congeners / pharmacology*
  • Fear / drug effects
  • Female
  • Maze Learning / drug effects
  • Mental Recall / drug effects*
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Orientation / drug effects*
  • Ovariectomy
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Retention, Psychology / drug effects


  • Estradiol Congeners
  • Estradiol
  • polyestradiol phosphate