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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Spatial memory in hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus): Depleting/Replenishing environments and pre-choice behaviors in the Radial Arm Maze


Rodents’ spatial memory is traditionally assessed in the radial arm-maze (RAM). An accurate response pattern in the RAM is described as the tendency to visit a new arm after each choice (i.e. win-shift strategy). When this response pattern is found, it is said that the animal remembers the places visited. In the present experiment, 12 hamsters were assessed in the RAM under two conditions: the depleting condition, in which feeders were not rebaited after each visit; and the replenishing condition, in which, feeders were rebaited. We registered the number of new arms visited (hits), the time spent in the central area of the maze, and the behaviors emitted in the central area before each arm choice. Results showed that, regardless of condition, animals were significantly more likely to visit new arms. However, more pre-choice behaviors and a longer center time were observed in the depleting condition than in the replenishing one. It is discussed that hamsters have a win-shift strategy for hoarding behavior even when they do not need to remember the places visited, though they exhibited more pre-choice behaviors when searching for food in the depleting condition.

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