Mindspan: Lessons from rat models of neurocognitive aging

Michela Gallagher, Amy M. Stocker, Ming Teng Koh

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Research on the biology of aging seeks to enhance understanding of basic mechanisms and thus support improvements in outcomes throughout the lifespan, including longevity itself, susceptibility to disease, and life-long adaptive capacities. The focus of this review is the use of rats as an animal model of cognitive change during aging, and specifi cally lessons learned from aging rats in behavioral studies of cognitive processes mediated by specialized neural circuitry. An advantage of this approach is the ability to compare brain aging across species where functional homology exists for specifi c neural systems; in this article we focus on behavioral assessments that target the functions of the medial temporal lobe and prefrontal cortex. We also take a critical look at studies using calorie restriction (CR) as a well-defi ned experimental approach to manipulating biological aging. We conclude that the effects of CR on cognitive aging in rats are less well established than commonly assumed, with much less supportive evidence relative to its benefi ts on longevity and susceptibility to disease, and that more research in this area is necessary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-40
Number of pages9
JournalILAR journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011


  • Aging
  • Hippocampus
  • Memory impairment
  • Mindspan
  • Neurocognition
  • Orbitofrontal cortex
  • Rat strain
  • Spatial
  • Water maze

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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