Y Maze

Spontaneous alternation

This test is used to assess aspects of cognitive function and learning in mice and is carried out using a standard T-maze containing a start arm and two choice arms or a standard Y-maze. For T-maze alternation, mice are placed in the start arm and given a free choice to explore either of the other two arms. Once the mouse has chosen an arm, it is removed and the process repeated. On most occasions, the mouse will enter the opposite arm on the second run. This constitutes a single alternation trial. Each mouse has a total of 10 alternation trials over 2 sessions of 5 trials each, usually 24 hours apart. The Y-maze is made of clear Plexiglas. This allows a 'piloting navigation' (allothetic map), using global landmarks in the room for orientation. The maze has 3 identical arms (40 x 9 x 16 cm) placed at 120° from each others. The centre platform is a triangle with 9 cm side-length. Each arm has walls with specific motifs all over the inner area of the three walls. The motifs are identical per arm, but different for each arm, allowing to distinguish it from the others. Each mouse is placed at the end of one arm, the head directed to the walls and allowed to explore freely the apparatus for 5 min, with the experimenter out of the animal's sight. At the end of the session, animals are returned to home cages. Latency to exit the start arm and sequence and number of arm visits are recorded.

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