Modified Barnes Maze Test

Based on the Delayed Match-to-Place experiment conducted in a standard water maze tank, the Modified Barnes Maze test assesses cognitive deficits in rodent models of CNS disorders. The Modified Barnes Maze is thought to measure similar learning abilities as the DMP without forcing the subjects to perform a task under unnatural conditions, i.e. swimming in water. Testing occurs on a circular platform with numerous escape holes ringed around the center of the platform. Bright overhead lighting creates an aversive stimulus, encouraging the animal to seek out the Target Escape Hole, which is attached to an escape tube, and escape from the light. Visual cues placed around the maze act as spatial cues.

The subject is placed in the center of the platform at the start of each trial and given a defined period of time to find the Target Escape Hole. If an animal enters the Target Escape Hole before time runs out, the experiment ends. Animals that do not enter the Target Hole in time are led to it by the experimenter and allowed to briefly remain in the tube before being returned to their home cage. The location of the Target Escape Hole is moved daily while other components remain the same. Subjects receive a total of four trials.

Trials are recorded with Noldus Ethovision and measured for escape latency, distance moved, and velocity. This noninvasive task is useful for evaluating novel chemical entities for their effects on cognition as well as identifying cognitive deficits in transgenic strains of mice, especially those prone to anxiety.