Morris water maze

Tools for studies with the

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.

Tools for studies with the Morris water maze

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.  

morris water maze mwm
white rat in a water maze

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).

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.

ethovision quadrants arena morris water maze
ethovision acquisition morris water maze video tracking


Customer quote

"Keep the good work going. You make our lives easy and each new version of EthoVision is testimony to the fact that the company is frankly put, the best at its game in the world. We appreciate this very much!"

Dr. De Wet Wolmarans|North-West University, South Africa


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.


Free white paper

Water maze testing and Alzheimer’s

In this white paper, a sample of recent studies illustrates how the Morris water maze task is used for research on possible AD therapeutics, and how video tracking methodology is incorporated in these experiments.

The Morris Water maze test is one of the most used tests for spatial learning and memory in behavioral neuroscience. Read about how EthoVision XT is ideal for this test!


Dr. Do Rego: "Automatic measurements makes us gain in quality."

Dr. Jean-Claude do Rego and Dr. Jean-Luc do Rego of the Behavioral Analysis Facility of the University of Rouen (Service Commun d’Analyse Comportementale, SCAC), are evaluating the behavioral and functional activities of new pharmacological drugs.


Free e-book

Basic behavioral neuroscience in rodents

Measuring spatial learning and memory in the Morris water maze. Why is this important? And what do we actually measure in this neurocognitive test? Our free e-book explains the basic behavioral neuroscience behind the Morris water maze and other tests, and how they are used. 



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).


Learn more

two water maze heatmaps with scale blue background ethovision xt

Relevant blogs

The search for autism models continues - why rats are important

The search for autism models continues - why rats are important

Autism (ASD) continues to be an important topic in scientific research. Although finding the actual cause of ASD is still years away, there have been several studies that point to a strong genetic component.
EthoVision XT and the Morris Water Maze: expert tips and tricks

EthoVision XT and the Morris Water Maze: expert tips and tricks

Neuroscientist Colleen McSweeney, Ph.D. shares her expert knowledge on using EthoVision XT and the Morris Water Maze. From a brief history to valuable tips and tricks, here is all you need to know on automated tracking.
Decreased learning abilities in diabetic rats: Silymarin to the rescue

Decreased learning abilities in diabetic rats: Silymarin to the rescue

Silymarin is a substance that works as an antioxidant, is anti-inflammatory and increases BDNF levels. After supplementing silymarin to diabetic rats, typical diabetes symptoms were greatly improved.
Ready to kick start your research?
Want better insights and faster results? Contact us now to learn how we can help you!

Email address *

Organization *

Country *

Privacy policy *

Information and updates

I would like to receive high-quality content produced by Noldus that is relevant for me, such as blogs, product updates, customer stories, and events.