The Barnes maze is a well-known paradigm to study spatial learning and memory. This maze consists of a circular table with circular holes around the circumference. The goal is for the animal to reach the box that is positioned beneath one of the holes with the aid of visual cues. A food reward in the goal box can help the training process. In some experiments the surface of the table is brightly lit, serving as an aversive stimulus that motivates the mouse or rat to find (and hide in) the goal box.
Besides investigating the learning curve of the animal over consecutive trials, the searching strategy of the animal can also be of interest. While some animals randomly search for the correct hole, others might systematically check each hole in certain patterns. When animals move directly to the correct hole independent of their starting position, this indicates spatial memory has formed.
EthoVision XT helps you get started quickly, whether you are a first time user or an experienced one. The built-in templates have arena definition and detection settings pre-set, which you can fine-tune as needed.
Areas of interest
Of course, within the Barnes maze, the different holes are of interest. These are predefined in the template, all you have to do is drag and drop these circles to the correct place in the video image within EthoVision XT. Specify which has the goal box underneath, and now EthoVision XT can combine this information with the tracking data you are about to acquire.
Tracking movement and behavior in detail
The EthoVision XT Multiple Body Points Module is able to detect and track not only the center point, but also the nose point and tail base of mice and rats. This allows for the accurate measurement of an animal’s relative position. In this case, it helps you discriminate nose-dipping, for example.
Read more about how the Barnes maze and EthoVision XT are used in research in these publications.