The mazes

Heather Bimonte-Nelson, Jill M. Daniel, Stephanie V. Koebele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


How does learning and remembering happen? The answer to this question gives us a lot to talk about. Indeed, we are now in an exciting time of science when technological advances in the neuroscience fi eld are meeting the demands and eagerness of scientists who wish to study relationships between the brain and cognition. Learning and memory experimenters have worked with great resolve to answer the mystery of these processes, and research in rats and mice has been especially prolifi c. Data from rodents have pioneered profound discoveries unlocking many mysteries of how learning and remembering occur. This chapter provides the background information necessary to understand this prior research, and also to perform a sound maze learning and memory rodent experiment. Learning and memory processing is multidimensional and complex, and rodent mazes can tap the different stages and depths of this processing by varying apparatus types and protocols. When studying cognition in rodents, it is necessary to acknowledge the multitude of factors involved in the process of quantifying maze scores in order to properly interpret data in terms of performance. In this chapter, critical terms are operationally defined, including memory types tested by various protocols applied to different apparatuses. Also reviewed are optimizing experimental designs, as well as the most frequently used rodent mazes in terms of setting up the apparatus, deciding the protocol to use in the chosen apparatus, actual testing procedures, behavior quantification, and data interpretation. Caveats, control procedures, and cautionary tales are discussed in detail. All of this is considered within the perspective that scientists must be clear about what is being evaluated; for maze studies, this means first broadly defining learning and memory, and then more specifically operationally defining the variables used to quantify types of measurements. Moreover, care is taken to reflect on how there are ample opportunities for unanticipated interactions to arise in behavioral research, with specific examples and respective solutions noted. Some of these interactive factors causing variability that could be interpreted as “nuances” of a behavioral phenomenon might turn out to be key to understanding how purposely manipulated variables impact behavioral outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-71
Number of pages35
StatePublished - 2015


  • Behavior
  • Brain
  • Cognition
  • History
  • Learning
  • Maze
  • Memory
  • Mouse
  • Navigation
  • Nonspatial
  • Place
  • Protocol
  • Rat
  • Reference
  • Rodent
  • Spatial
  • Working

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • General Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Neuroscience


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