Watermaze performance after middle cerebral artery occlusion in the rat: the role of sensorimotor versus memory impairments

Deborah Bingham, Stephen J. Martin, I Mhairi Macrae, Hilary V O Carswell (Lead / Corresponding author)

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    44 Citations (Scopus)


    In rodent stroke models, investigation of deficits in spatial memory using the Morris watermaze may be confounded by coexisting sensory or motor impairments. To target memory specifically, we devised a watermaze protocol to minimize the impact of sensory and motor impairments in female Lister-hooded rats exposed to proximal electrocoagulation of the middle cerebral artery (MCAO). Rats were trained in a reference-memory task comprising 4 trials/day; trial 1 being a probe trial (platform absent for the first 60 seconds). Training ended once animals reached a strict criterion based on the probe-trial performance. Memory retention was tested 1, 7, and 28 days later. The MCAO did not affect the number of days to reach criterion during acquisition or the time spent in target quadrant during retention testing, compared with sham or unoperated rats. However, MCAO rats showed slightly poorer accuracy in crossing the platform location and increased thigmotactic swimming compared with controls. Our results show that spatial memory deficits are minimal in this rodent stroke model, and suggest that previously published watermaze impairments are attributable to sensory and motor deficits but not memory deficits. We recommend using probe trials and training to a predetermined performance criterion in future studies assessing watermaze memory deficits in rodent stroke models. Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism (2012) 32, 989-999; doi:10.1038/jcbfm.2012.16; published online 29 February 2012

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)989-999
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012


    • behavior (rodent)
    • brain ischemia
    • cognition
    • focal cerebral ischemia
    • regeneration and recovery
    • BRAIN
    • STROKE
    • PLACE
    • MAZE


    Dive into the research topics of 'Watermaze performance after middle cerebral artery occlusion in the rat: the role of sensorimotor versus memory impairments'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this