Rodent mazes and memory: Continuing the search for the engram

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


The field of how learning and remembering happens in the brain has a rich history. We have made considerable discoveries thus far; however, there is still much left to discern. Questions regarding the search for the engram, or memory trace, have persisted through the decades, and this research area is on a fast trajectory forward. In fact, like many scientific domains, the more we learn, the more novel queries are unleashed. Learning and memory research includes and spans the invertebrate level, from the simple marine mollusk Aplysia californica, to rodents, to nonhuman primates, to humans. Research in rats and mice has been especially prolific, and this work has pioneered dramatic discoveries unlocking some of the mysteries of learning and memory. This chapter takes you down memory lane, exploring the opulent, complex, and rousing history of the science of learning and remembering. A historical perspective is provided on discoveries in the field of learning and memory, particularly studies using rodents and mazes, starting with the first experimental psychology learning study using the white rat. The didactics of rodent learning and memory studies are covered, including operationally defining learning and remembering in the rodent, as well as discussion about how maze studies can provide a window into the mind of rats and mice. The importance of good experimental design, control behavioral procedures, and entertaining alternative interpretations of behavioral findings are considered in the context of wisdom gained from prior research, as well as in the setting of broadening perspectives on modern maze applications and experiments that are yet to be designed and are forthcoming.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Maze Book
Subtitle of host publicationTheories, Practice, and Protocols for Testing Rodent Cognition
PublisherSpringer New York
Number of pages34
ISBN (Electronic)9781493921591
ISBN (Print)9781493921584
StatePublished - Mar 10 2015


  • Behavior
  • Brain
  • Cortex
  • Hippocampus
  • History
  • Learning
  • Maze
  • Memory
  • Mouse
  • Navigation
  • Place
  • Protocol
  • Rat
  • Reference
  • Rodent
  • Spatial
  • Working

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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