Although research suggests that ovariectomy (ovx) is detrimental to spatial cognition in young rats, little work has evaluated the cognitive effects of ovx in aged rats. The authors investigated the effects of ovx in aged rats using the water radial-arm maze. In Study 1, young rats and aged rats receiving ovx 1.5 months before testing outperformed aged rats receiving sham surgery or ovx 21 days before testing. In Study 2, young rats and aged rats receiving ovx 2.0 or 6.0 months before testing outperformed aged sham rats. Aged rats exhibited estradiol and elevated progesterone levels comparable to those of young rats. The findings suggest that 1.5-6.0 months, but not 21 days, of ovx improves spatial memory in aged rats. The hypothesis that long-term ovarian hormone loss is detrimental to spatial memory in aged rats was not supported. The authors hypothesize that removal of elevated progesterone levels is related to the ovx-induced cognitive enhancement.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Behavioral Neuroscience