Zoological Studies

Vol. 50 No. 1, 2011

Differences in Spatial Learning and Memory for Male and Female Mandarin Voles (Microtus mandarinus) and BALB/c Mice

Rui Guo, Na Liang, Fa-Dao Tai*, Rui-Yong Wu, Gang Chang, Fen-Qin He, and Qin-Wei Yuan

Institute of Brain and Behavioral Sciences, College of Life Sciences, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi’an, Shaanxi 710062,China

Rui Guo, Na Liang, Fa-Dao Tai, Rui-Yong Wu, Gang Chang, Fen-Qin He, and Qin-Wei Yuan (2011) Spatial learning and memory are important skills for the survival of animals and may vary among species and between sexes according to differences in the use of space. Little is known about spatial learning, memory, and gender differences in mandarin voles (Microtus mandarinus), and less is known about how mandarin voles compare to model animals such as BALB/c mice. We assessed spatial learning and memory in male and female mandarin voles and BALB/c mice using a Morris water maze. Analyses revealed significant differences during the learning and memory probe-trials. Mandarin voles performed better than BALB/c mice and showed reduced time spent in the peripheral zone from the 1st to the 5th days. In contrast, BALB/c mice showed increased time spent in the peripheral zone. We also found marked differences between male and female BALB/c mice (males performed better than females), but no such effect in mandarin voles. These data suggest that mandarin voles have good spatial learning and memory abilities and should be considered a model species in future investigations of spatial learning and memory.

Key words: Mandarin voles, BALB/c mice, Morris water maze.

*Correspondence: Tel: 86-29-85310286. Fax: 86-29-85310546. E-mail:taifadao@snnu.edu.cn