Automatic recording of mediating behavior in delayed matching- and nonmatching-to-position procedures in rats

Leigh V. Panlilio, Sevil Yasar, Eric B. Thorndike, Steven R. Goldberg, Charles W. Schindler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Rationale: Delayed matching-to-position and nonmatching-to-position procedures are widely used to model working memory in rodents. Mediating behavior-which enhances performance but is not explicitly required by the task-is generally considered an obstacle to the measurement of memory, but often occurs despite attempts to prevent it. The ubiquitous nature of mediating behavior suggests it might be analogous to rehearsal, an important component of learning and memory in humans. Objectives: The aim was to study an easily recordable, rehearsal-like mediating response in rats under baseline conditions and after treatment with amnestic drugs [scopolamine (0.1-0.3 mg/kg) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC; 1-5.6 mg/kg)]. Methods: Lighted nosepoke holes were used to present position cues and record delayed matching or nonmatching responses. Performance of a distractor task was required to prevent simply waiting at the correct choice, but the nosepoke holes were left accessible during the delay. Results: Each rat trained with the nonmatching task exhibited one of two mediating "strategies" that increased the odds of a correct choice: responding in the to-be-correct hole during the delay or responding in the opposite hole during the delay. Rats trained with the matching task all showed the former strategy. Treatment with scopolamine disrupted performance of the mediating response. Scopolamine and THC both decreased the effectiveness of the mediating response, increasing errors even on trials when the "appropriate" mediating behavior did occur. Conclusions: The procedures and data analysis approach used here provide an objective, automated means of measuring mediating behavior, which might be useful as an animal model of memory rehearsal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)495-504
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Delayed spatial matching
  • Mediating response
  • Rehearsal
  • Scopolamine
  • THC
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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