Y Maze Spontaneous Alternation Test

Y Maze Spontaneous Alternation is a behavioral test for measuring the willingness of rodents to explore new environments. Rodents typically prefer to investigate a new arm of the maze rather than returning to one that was previously visited. Many parts of the brain--including the hippocampus, septum, basal forebrain, and prefrontal cortex--are involved in this task.

Testing occurs in a Y-shaped maze with three white, opaque plastic arms at a 120° angle from each other. After introduction to the center of the maze, the animal is allowed to freely explore the three arms. Over the course of multiple arm entries, the subject should show a tendency to enter a less recently visited arm. The number of arm entries and the number of triads are recorded in order to calculate the percentage of alternation. An entry occurs when all four limbs are within the arm. This test is used to quantify cognitive deficits in transgenic strains of mice and evaluate novel chemical entities for their effects on cognition.