Short intertrial intervals impair water maze performance in old Fischer 344 rats

John Th Rick, M. Paul Murphy, Gwen O. Ivy, Norton W. Milgram

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13 Scopus citations


Male and female Fischer 344 rats (N = 55) aged approximately 18, 21, and 24 months were tested for spatial learning in the water maze with intertrial intervals of 1-4 min (Massed) or 23-33 min (Spaced). Animals tested in the Massed condition showed an age-related impairment on trials to criterion; rats aged 24 months performed more poorly than younger subjects. Spaced animals did not differ at any age nor did they differ from 18- or 21-month- old Massed subjects. The youngest rats in both groups were comparable to animals aged 7-8 months tested under Massed conditions. Tests on swim distance, swim speed, and escape latency produced similar results. Our data suggest that acquisition deficits in 24-month-old rats tested with long intertrial intervals are due at least in part to increased susceptibility to fatigue and/or thermal stress. Caution should be used, therefore, when interpreting age-related impairments in water maze performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)B253-B260
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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