A very popular test for spatial learning and memory is the Morris water maze task. The water maze consists of a pool, with a hidden platform submerged just below the water surface. During the Morris water maze test, the rat or mouse learns to escape from the water by locating a hidden platform with the help of visual cues. Optionally, the platform is removed in a second phase of the experiment, or placed in another quadrant, to investigate the animal’s response to this new situation or to measure extinction.
Areas of interest
In a Morris water maze test, you are interested in where the animal swims relative to the platform. You want to define the four quadrants, the platform, and maybe even Wishaw’s corridor. EthoVision XT has intuitive drawing tools to define these zones in your video image. Variables measured, such as location, but also velocity and distances, are automatically linked to these zones.
Automating your research provides a number of great benefits; it increases efficiency and helps you to standardize your experiment, resulting in more reliable data. You can program EthoVision XT to automatically start and stop the tracking of your animal, saving you the hassle of doing it manually. For example, start tracking as soon as the animal is detected in the starting quadrant and stop tracking after it has reached the Atlantis platform.
Examples of parameters
EthoVision XT automatically calculates a range or variables that are of interest in the Water maze task. Of course, you want to know the average distance to the platform during the trial, known as Gallagher's proximity. Another well-known parameter is Whishaw's error, or alternatively, the heading angle error, reflecting the correctness of the swim path towards the platform. The direction of movement, relative to the platform (heading) is also a useful variable.
Other parameters include velocity of movement, time spent in quadrant of platform (of where the platform was previously located), etc.
Water maze equipment
For more information about the water maze equipment and components, click here.
Find out more about EthoVision XT tracking software, or read more about The Morris water maze on our Noldus blog . You can also download the free Morris water maze white paper , or check out this list of selected publications .