Fractionating the nonspatial pretraining effect in the water maze task

Behav Neurosci. 1997 Dec;111(6):1285-91. doi: 10.1037//0735-7044.111.6.1285.


Nonspatial pretraining (NSP) enables rats to learn the general strategies of the water maze task (WMT; e.g., learning to swim away from the wall and to climb onto the hidden platform), reduces sensorimotor disturbances, and eliminates acquisition impairments caused by scopolamine hydrobromide, a muscarinic antagonist. To evaluate the contributions of the components of NSP to these effects, NSP was fractionated so that different groups of male rats swam, were placed onto the hidden platform, climbed onto the hidden platform, or were placed into an empty maze before spatial training under scopolamine. No single component of the NSP procedure was sufficient to produce its full effects on sensorimotor disturbances and WMT acquisition. Experience with most or perhaps all of the specific behaviors required in the WMT appears to be important for NSP to produce its full effects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Escape Reaction / drug effects
  • Escape Reaction / physiology
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / drug effects*
  • Maze Learning / physiology
  • Muscarinic Antagonists
  • Orientation / drug effects*
  • Orientation / physiology
  • Practice, Psychological*
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Reaction Time
  • Scopolamine
  • Swimming / physiology*


  • Muscarinic Antagonists
  • Scopolamine