UNIT 13.11 Scoring Learning and Memory in Developing Rodents

  1. Igor Branchi,
  2. Laura Ricceri

Published Online: 1 MAR 2006

DOI: 10.1002/0471140856.tx1311s27

Current Protocols in Toxicology

Current Protocols in Toxicology

How to Cite

Branchi, I. and Ricceri, L. 2006. Scoring Learning and Memory in Developing Rodents. Current Protocols in Toxicology. 27:13.11:13.11.1–13.11.14.

Author Information

  1. Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 MAR 2006
  2. Published Print: FEB 2006


Learning and memory abilities can be reliably measured in rodents starting from very early phases of postnatal development. In particular, in the study of learning and memory in periweanling or adolescent (from around postnatal day 20 to 50) mice or rats, two experimental protocols are appropriate for a reliable characterization of cognitive ability development: the water maze and the spatial open-field with objects. These experimental protocols have been developed to study the behavior of adult rodents, but are easily adapted to the peculiar physiological and behavioral responses of immature animals by applying selected modifications to both test apparatuses as well as protocols. It is worth noting that these two experimental protocols have been proven to be complementary because they provide different information on possible cognitive deficits; thus, use of both is recommended for an exhaustive behavioral characterization.


  • water maze;
  • spatial open-field with objects;
  • adolescence;
  • preweanling;
  • postweanling