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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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).
Or take a look at the selection of recent publications.