Delayed alternation task

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The delayed alternation task allows assessing spatial working memory in a T- or Y-maze.

In the first trial of the test, the animal is placed at the end of the start arm and has to choose between the two other arms that are baited. Once the choice made, the subject is removed and after a variable delay, is returned in the start arm. In this second trial, the one arm baited is now the opposite arm to which chosen during the first trial. The animal has to make a different choice than its first one (correct choice) to get the reward.

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Reasons for choosing this test

  • Spatial working and reference memory
  • Simple task (binary choice)
  • Sensitive for both rats and mice

Reasons for not choosing this test

  • Requires food-deprivation
  • May represent a laborious procedure (difficult to automate)
  • Locomotor activity alterations can interfere with arms exploration
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