Morris water maze

The Morris water maze task is a popular and well-validated test for spatial learning, and is one of the most-used behavioral tests in neuroscience research with rat and mouse models.

The testing area is a round pool filled with water and a hidden platform is submerged just below the water surface. The rat or mouse learns to escape from the water by locating the platform, in most cases with the help of visual cues. Alternatively, the platform can be placed in another quadrant, or removed during another phase of the experiment. This way, memory retention and extinction can be investigated.

High quality pools

At Noldus, we offer several options for high quality mazes. They are either custom-built by us or one of our trusted suppliers. Several size and color options are available and each maze is from top materials, durable, and easy to clean. Most importantly, these water pools are perfectly suited for video tracking experiments and automated tests. We also supply accessory automated platforms.  

Water maze
The Morris water maze is available in different colors and sizes from several manufacturers
atlantis platform
On-demand platforms allow you to control the accessibility of the platform without having to get into the water. 

Package deal

All water mazes are available in a cost-efficient package deal that includes a computer and a full EthoVision XT software license for video tracking. This license can also be used for video tracking and automation of other behavioral tests.

Video tracking

In most water maze trials, the main goal is to measure how quickly the animal locates the platform, and how this ability improves over time. As a result, latency is of importance, but so is the average distance to the platform over time (e.g. Gallagher’s proximity).

Morris water maze and EthoVision XT

The swimming pattern itself can also be of interest. For example, it can be studied in order to uncover the navigational strategy of the animal. Whishaw’s error or heading angle error are examples of parameters that reflect the subject’s strategy.

ethovision xt arena definition water maze
Easily define the areas of interest in your water maze set-up within EthoVision XT. 
ethovision xt video tracking water maze
EthoVision XT accurately tracks the movement of your rat or mouse as it navigates through the water maze. 

The location of the animal relative to its previous location is important, especially in trials in which the platform is removed (or lowered so the animal can’t reach it). Therefore, the distance to this location or the time spent in the correct quadrant are important parameters.

The good news is that these parameters are easily measured by video tracking with EthoVision XT. In addition, EthoVision XT offers great data selection and analysis tools, and it has intuitive visualization options.

Automation options

We have automation options available if you want to use automatica/hydraulic Atlantis platforms. For example, we supply a combination of four platforms, one in each quadrant of the maze, which allows you to easily change the location of the platform over several trials without having to get into the water. 


In additional to custom-built Noldus water mazes, we offer water mazes from several suppliers, such as Ugo Basile and Maze Engineers (availability may depend on your location).

Read more

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.

A selection of recent publications:

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  • Bálentová, S.; Hajtmanová, E.; Filová, B.; Borbélyová, V.; Lehotský, J.; Adamkov, M. (2018). Effects of fractionated whole-brain irradiation on cellular composition and cognitive function in the rat brain. International Journal of Radiation Biology, doi:10.1080/09553002.2018.1425805
  • Brombacher, T. M.; De Gouveia, K. S.; Cruywagen, L.; Makena, N.; Booley, F.; Tamgue, O.; Brombacher, F. (2018). Nippostrongylus brasiliensis infection leads to impaired reference memory and myeloid cell interference. Scientific Reports, 8, 2958.
  • Caccamo, A.; Belfiore, R.; Oddo, S. (2018). Genetically reducing mTOR signaling rescues central insulin dysregulation in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. Neurobiology of Aging, doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2018.03.032.
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  • Chen, X.; Wang, S.; Zhou, Y.; Han, Y.; Li, S.; Xu, Q.; Xu, L.; Zhu, Z.; Deng, Y.; Yu, L.; Song, L.; Chen, A.P.; Song, J.; Takahashi, E.; He, G.; He, L.; Li, W.; Chen, C.D. (2018).Phf8 histone demethylase deficiency causes cognitive impairments through the mTOR pathway. Nature Communications, doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-02531-y.
  • Fekete, C.; Vastagh, C.; Dénes, Á.; Hrabovszky, E.; Nyiri, G.; Kalló, I.; Liposits, Z.; Sárvári, M. (2018). Chronic amyloid β oligomer infusion evokes systained inflammation and microglial changes in the rat hippocampus via NLRP3. Neuroscience, doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2018.02.046.
  • Fischer, K.D.; Houston, A.C.W.;  Desai, R.I.; Doyle, M.R.; Bergman, J.; Mian, M.; Mannix, R.; Sulzer, D.L.; Choi, S.J.; Mosharov, E.V.; Hodgson, N.W.; Bechtholt, A.; Miczek, K.A.; Rosenberg, P.A. (2018). Behavioral phenotyping and dopamine dynamics in mice with conditional deletion of the glutamate transporter GLT-1 in neurons: resistance to the acute locomotor effects of amphetamine. Psychopharmacology, doi: 10.1007/s00213-018-4848-1.
  • Hou, Z.; Tian, R.; Han, F.; Hao, S.; Wu, W.; Mao, X.; Tao, X.; Lu, T.; Dong, J.; Zhen, Y.; Liu, B. (2018) Decompressive craniectomy protects against hippocampal edema and behavioral deficits at an early stage of a moderately controlled cortical impact brain injury model in adult male rats. Brain Research Bulletin, doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2018.02.010.
  • Knezovic, A.; Osmanovic Barilar, J.; Babic, A.; Bagaric,R.; Farkas, V.; Riederer, P.; Salkovic-Petrisic, M. (2018). Glucagon-like peptide-1 mediates effects of oral galactose in streptozotocin-induced rat model of sporadic Alzheimer’s disease. Neuropharmacology, 135, 48-62. 
  • Majkutewicz, I.; Kurowska, E.; Podlacha, M.; Myslinska, D.; Grembecka, B.; Rucinski, J.; Pierzynowska, K.; Wrona, D. (2018). Age-dependent effects of dimethyl fumarate on cognitive and neuropathological features in the streptozotocin-induced rat model of Alzheimer’s disease. Brain Research, 1686, 19-33.
  • Marschner, L.; Schreurs, A.; Lechat, B.; Mogensen, J.; Roebroek, A.; Ahmed, T.; Balschun, D. (2018). Single mild traumatic brain injury results in transiently impaired spatial long-term memory and altered search strategies. Brain Research Bulletin, doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2018.02.040. 
  • McPherson, C.A.; Zhang, G.; Gilliam, R.; Brar, S.S.; Wilson, R.; Brix, A.; Picut, C.; Harry, G.J. (2018). An Evaluation of Neurotoxicity Following Fluoride Exposure from Gestational Through Adult Ages in Long-Evans Hooded Rats. Neurotoxicity Research, doi: 10.1007/s12640-018-9870-x
  • Montgomery, K.S.; Bancroft, E.A.; Fincher, A.S.; Migut, E.A.; Provasek, V.; Murchison, D.; DuBois, D.W. (2018). Effects of ethanol and varenicline on female Sprague-Dawley rats in a third trimester model of fetal alcohol syndrome. Alcohol, doi: 10.1016/j.alcohol.2018.02.006.
  • Orr, A.G.; Lo, I.; Schumacher, H.; Ho, K.; Gill, M.; Guo, W.; Kim, D.H.; Knox, A.; Saito, T.; Saido, T.C.; Simms. J.; Toddes, C.; Wang, X.; Yu, G.-Q.; Mucke, L. (2018). Istradefylline reduces memory deficits in aging mice with amyloid pathology. Neurobiology of Disease, 110, 29-36.
  • Pilipenko, V.; Narbute, K.; Beitnere, U.; Rumaks, J.; Pupure, J.; Jansone, B.; Klusa, V. (2018). Very low doses of muscimol and baclofen ameliorate cognitive deficits and regulate protein expression in the brain of a rat model of streptozocininduced Alzheimer's disease. European Journal of Pharmacology, 818, 382-399. 
  • Titus, D.J.; Wilson, N.M.; Alcazar, O.; Calixte, D.A.; Dietrich, W.D.; Gurney, M.E.; Atkins, C.M. A negative allosteric modulator of PDE4D enhances learning after traumatic brain injury. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 148, 38-49.
  • Wang, B.; Han, S. (2018). Inhibition of Inducible Nitric Oxide Synthase Attenuates Deficits in Synaptic Plasticity and Brain Functions Following Traumatic Brain Injury. The Cerebellum, doi: 10.1007/s12311-018-0934-5.
  • Yu, Y.; Zhao, Y.; Teng, F.; Li, J.; Guan, Y.; Xu, J.; LV, X.; Guan, F.; Zhang, M.; Chen, L. (2018). Berberine improves cognitive deficiency and muscular dysfunction via activation of the AMPK/SIRT1/PGC-1A pathway in skeletal muscle from naturally aging rats. The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging, doi:
  • Zhang,  A.-H.; Yu, J.-B.; Sun, H.; Kong, L.; Wang, X.-Q.; Zhang, Q.-Y.; Wang, X-J. (2018). Identifying quality-markers from Shengmai San protects against transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer's disease using chinmedomics approach. Phytomedicine, doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2018.04.004.
  • Zheng, X.; Liang, L.; Hei, C.; Yang, W.; Zhang, T.; Wu, K.; Qin, Y.; Chang, Q. (2018). Bilateral olfactory mucosa damage induces the disappearance of olfactory glomerulus and reduces the expression of extrasynaptic α5GABAARs in the hippocampus in early postnatal Sprague Dawley rats. Neurotoxicity Research, doi: 10.1007/s12640-018-9893-3.