Differential Effects in Young and Aged Rats’ Navigational Accuracy Following Instantaneous Rotation of Environmental Cues

Adam W. Lester, Gianna A. Jordan, Colton J. Blum, Zachary P. Philpot, Carol A. Barnes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Successful navigation depends critically upon two broad categories of spatial navigation strategies that include allocentric and egocentric reference frames, relying on external or internal spatial information, respectively. As with older adults, aged rats show robust impairments on a number of different spatial navigation tasks. There is some evidence that these navigation impairments are accompanied by a bias toward relying on egocentric over allocentric navigation strategies. To test the degree to which young and aged animals utilize these two navigation approaches, a novel behavioral arena was used in which rats are trained to traverse a circular track and to stop at a learned goal location that is fixed with respect to a panorama of visual cues projected onto the surrounding walls. By instantaneously rotating the cues, allocentric and egocentric reference frames were put in direct and immediate conflict and goal navigation performance was assessed with respect to how accurately young and aged animals were able to utilize the rotated cues. Behavioral data collected from nine young and eight aged animals revealed that both age groups were able to update their navigation performance following cue rotation. Contrary to what was expected, however, aged animals showed more accurate overall goal navigation performance, stronger allocentric strategy use, and more evident changes in behavior in response to cue rotation compared to younger animals. The young rats appeared to mix egocentric and allocentric strategies for ICR task solution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)561-574
Number of pages14
JournalBehavioral Neuroscience
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2022


  • Aging
  • Allothetic cues
  • Idiothetic cues
  • Spatial navigation
  • Spatial orientation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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