Validation of a 2-day water maze protocol in mice

Maria Gulinello, Michael Gertner, Guadalupe Mendoza, Brian P. Schoenfeld, Salvatore Oddo, Frank LaFerla, Catherine H. Choi, Sean M.J. McBride, Donald S. Faber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


We present a 2-day water maze protocol that addresses some of potential confounds present in the water maze when using the aged subjects typical of studies of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease. This protocol is based on an initial series of training trials with a visible platform, followed by a memory test with a hidden platform 24 h later. We validated this procedure using aged (15-18 m) mice expressing three Alzheimer's disease-related transgenes, PS1(M146 V), APP(Swe), and tau(P301L). We also tested these triple transgenic mice (3xTG) and age and sex-matched wild-type (WT) in a behavioral battery consisting of tests of motor coordination (balance beam), spatial memory (object displacement task) visual acuity (novel object recognition task) and locomotor activity (open field). 3xTG mice had significantly longer escape latencies in the memory trial of the 2-day water maze test than WT and than their own baseline performance in the last visible platform trial. In addition, this protocol had improved sensitivity compared to a typical probe trial, since no significant differences between genotypes were evident in a probe trial conducted 24 h after the final training trial. The 2-day procedure also resulted in good reliability between cohorts, and controlled for non-cognitive factors that can confound water maze assessments of memory, such as the significantly lower locomotor activity evident in the 3xTG mice. A further benefit of this method is that large numbers of animals can be tested in a short time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)220-227
Number of pages8
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 23 2009


  • Aging
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Novel object placement task
  • Novel object recognition task
  • Sex differences
  • Spatial memory
  • Water maze

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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