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Ludvig, Nandor; Tang, Hai M; Eichenbaum, Howard; Gohil, Baiju C
"Spatial memory performance of freely-moving squirrel monkeys"
Behavioural brain research 2003 Mar 18; 140(1-2):175-183
Few experiments have addressed the problem of cognitive map formation in non-human primates. Therefore, a paradigm was developed to assess spatial memory formation in squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus) moving freely in three dimensions. While moving on the walls and floor of a large test chamber, the animals learned to collect pieces of cereal from baited food-ports interspersed among non-baited ports. The cereal-pellets were not visible to the monkeys, so the animals needed to develop spatial memory to visit only the baited ports for food and avoid the non-baited ones. A session consisted of ten consecutive trials, and 3 successive sessions were conducted on each day for a 5-day period. For each trial, correct choices (CC; number of visited baited-ports) and incorrect choices (IC; number of visited non-baited ports) were registered, and spatial memory performance index (SMPI; ranging from 0.00 to 1.00) was calculated as follows: SMPI=(CC-IC)/CC. For each session, mean SMPI, session duration, total reaches into the non-baited ports, and total reaches into the baited ports were documented. In an 8-port task, where 4 food-ports were baited and 4 were non-baited, the mean SMPI was higher than 0 in the first session (day 1), indicating the development of short-term spatial memory. By the fifth session (day 2), this index was significantly higher than in the first session, indicating the build-up of long-term spatial memory. These changes were related to a significant decrease in the total reaches into the non-baited ports. At the same time, the duration of the sessions and the total reaches into the baited ports did not change significantly. This paradigm can be used for (1) studying cognitive map formation in primates, (2) examining the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms in integrative neurobiological experiments, and (3) screening cognition-enhancer drugs in a monkey model

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