Learning based on hippocampal-dependent spatial navigation in female rats was assessed at identified points in the estrous cycle corresponding to low (estrus) and high (proestrus) circulating estrogen. With background training in water-maze procedures, rats learned the location of an escape platform in the maze in a single session of 8 training trials. A strong spatial bias for the escape platform was also evident in a probe trial used to assess retention of learning 30 min after the training session. This entire protocol was completed in less than an hour. The performance of the estrus and proestrus rats was indistinguishable on all behavioral measures, irrespective of the stage of estrous cycle during the task. These results indicate that rapid learning and retention for spatial information over a relatively short interval may be preserved despite morphological alterations in hippocampal dendritic spine density in the normally cycling female rat.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Behavioral Neuroscience