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Reorientation by features and geometry: Effects of healthy and degenerative age-related cognitive decline

Authors
  • Leonard, Kevin1
  • Vasylkiv, Viktoriya1
  • Kelly, Debbie M.1, 2
  • 1 University of Manitoba, 190 Dysart Road, Winnipeg, MB, R3T 2N2, Canada , Winnipeg (Canada)
  • 2 University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada , Winnipeg (Canada)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Learning & Behavior
Publisher
Springer US
Publication Date
Jan 08, 2020
Volume
48
Issue
1
Pages
124–134
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3758/s13420-019-00401-9
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

The ability to orient is critical for mobile species. Two visual cues, geometry (e.g., distance and direction) and features (e.g., colour and texture) are often used when establishing one’s orientation. Previous research has shown the use of these cues, in particular, geometry, may decline with healthy aging. Few studies have examined whether degenerative aging processes show similar time points for the decline of geometry use. The present study examined this issue by training adult and aged mice from two strains, a healthy wild-type and an Alzheimer’s model, to search for a hidden platform in a rectangular water maze. The shape of the maze provided geometric information, and distinctive features were displayed on the walls. Following training, manipulations to the features were made to examine whether the mice were able to use the features and geometry, and whether they showed a preference between these two cue types. Results showed that although Alzheimer’s transgenic mice were slower to learn the task, overall age rather than strain, was associated with a degradation in use of geometry. However, the presence of seemingly uninformative features (due to their redundancy) facilitated the use of geometry. Additionally, when features and geometry provided conflicting information, only young wild-type mice showed a primary use of features. Our results suggest the failure to use geometry may be a generalized function of aging, and not a diagnostic feature of degeneration for mice. Whether this is also the case for other mammals, such as humans for which the mouse is an important medical model, remains to be examined.

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