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Sex differences in many non-reproductive behaviors have been described in rodents. This chapter will focus on sex-differences in the learning and information retention of certain kinds of mazes in rats (Rattus norvegicus). The majority of the work has been done on laboratory rats, and suggests that males have a higher ability for contextual fear learning and spatial learning while females performed better in location memory tasks and exhibited a lack of learned helplessness. Gonadal hormones are thought to be partially responsible for these differences and it is likely that these sex-differences arise early in development because altering the sex-hormone levels after puberty doesn’t alter the sex differences. It has also been suggested that learning differences are evolutionarily beneficial for species in which males and females differ in their need to navigate or travel.

Author: Vanessa Lippay

a rat standing on a toilet seat.
Photo courtesy of Flickr and Big_Fat_Rat


Rodents share many features at the anatomical, cellular, biochemical, and molecular level with humans. The rat ( Rattus norvegicus ) is a particularly useful as a neurological model and source of primary cell cultures because of their relatively large organs and suborganellar structures. Also, the rat shares similar brain functions to humans, such as anxiety, hunger, circadian rhythm, aggression, memory, sexual behavior and other emotional responses (Beatty, 1979). Therefore many studies use rodent models to approximate human behavioral responses under physiological and pathological conditions.

Differences between male and female non-reproductive behaviors in rodents have been frequently observed in laboratory studies. Among the behaviors that are sexually dimorphic in the rat are activity, aggression, pain, taste sensitivity, food intake and body weight regulation, avoidance responses, taste aversion, performance on certain schedules of reinforcement, and the learning and retention of information relevant to certain kinds of mazes (Beatty, 1979).

The standard for measuring spatial learning and memory ability in mammals is the Morris water maze (MWM) . This maze requires subjects to use the spatial arrangement of objects or cues outside of a circular pool to find a submerged goal platform located in a fixed location in the pool. It is presumed that with repetition rats learn to find the platform by remembering the visual cues surrounding the pool (Perrot-Sinal, 1996). Created 20 years ago, the MWM is currently one of the most frequently used laboratory tools in behavioral neuroscience.

Learning in spatial tasks takes place via two strategies, denominated taxon and local strategies . In denominated taxon, the animals always begin in the same location and learn to reach the end location by repeating the same set of movements each trial. When using local strategies, the animal moves directly to the target location from any starting position guided by distant cues outside of the maze (Cimadevilla, 1999). Memory and spatial learning can also be divided in rodent models into working versus reference memory. Reference memory is similar to local strategies, and depends on the recall of a set of static objects that can then be referred to. Working memory occurs when objects are mobile or exhaustible, this type of memory requires the ability to update and retrieve information (Puts, 2007).

Questions & Answers

How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
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s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
how can I make nanorobot?
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
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Source:  OpenStax, Mockingbird tales: readings in animal behavior. OpenStax CNX. Jan 12, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11211/1.5
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