© 2015 American Psychological Association. Search strategies in the Morris water maze provide useful insights on cognitive function that may reveal genotype differences not reflected by escape latency or distance. Its analysis is pointed out as a complementary tool to better define the phenotype and the effect of treatments in animal models in which both cognitive impairment and behavioral symptoms reproduce the clinical complexity of the Alzheimer's disease patient. Here, we studied the performance of 13-month-old male 3xTg-AD mice in 3 different paradigms (cue learning, place task, and probe trial) and as compared with age-matched nontransgenic mice. The quantitative analysis (escape latency, distance, and speed) showed that in all tasks, the cognitive performance of 3xTg-AD mice was interfered with by a persistent hyperactive pattern. Their worse cognitive function was revealed by the qualitative features of nonsearch behaviors (floating and circling) and search strategies (single and/mixed, goal directed and nongoal directed). The search pattern was based on mixed and nongoal-directed strategies, in contrast to the single and goal-directed strategies used by controls. In the place task, poor cognitive flexibility of 3xTg-AD mice was also shown in persistence of search in the cue-trained position and the need to correct the strategy to find the new location. Trials involving a naïve situation (first trial of the cue task) or the difficulty of a new task (first trial of the place task and the probe trial) were the most suitable to show the deficits. This qualitative analysis may also be useful in the assessment of preventive or therapeutical treatments.
|Publication status||Published - 1 Apr 2015|
- BPSD-like symptoms
- Cognitive flexibility
- Search strategies
- Spatial orientation