Individual differences in spatial memory and striatal ChAT activity among young and aged rats

Paul J. Colombo, Michela Gallagher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Individual differences in spatial memory among young and aged rats were assessed using memory tasks related to integrity of the hippocampus and the neostriatum. Relationships were then examined between measures of spatial memory and regional choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) activity, a marker for cholinergic integrity. Twenty-four-month-old Long-Evans rats were impaired in comparisons with 6-month-old rats on measures of place learning, working memory, reference memory, and perseveration in water-maze tasks. Aged rats that were impaired on one measure of memory, however, were not necessarily impaired on other measures. ChAT activity in the ventromedial and dorsolateral neostriatum of aged rats was significantly reduced in comparisons with young rats whereas no difference was found in the hippocampus. Aged rats with the most ChAT activity in the anterior ventromedial neostriatum performed best on the place-learning and reference memory tasks but also made the most perseverative errors on the working memory task. In addition, young and aged rats with the most ChAT activity in the anterior dorsolateral neostriatum were those with the least accurate working memory. No relationships were found between ChAT activity in the hippocampus and spatial memory. Thus age-related memory impairment has components that can be segregated by measuring relationships between cholinergic integrity in subregions of the anterior neostriatum and memory tasks with different strategic requirements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)314-327
Number of pages14
JournalNeurobiology of Learning and Memory
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1998


  • Aging
  • ChAT activity
  • Cholinergic system
  • Hippocampus
  • Memory
  • Neostriatum
  • Reference memory
  • Spatial learning
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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