Clinical research has leveraged a variety of paradigms to assess cognitive decline, commonly targeting spatial learning and memory abilities. However, interest in the cognitive processes of nonmodel species, typically within an ecological context, has also become an emerging field of study. In particular, interest in the cognitive processes in reptiles is growing although experimental studies on reptilian cognition are sparse. The few reptilian studies that have experimentally tested for spatial learning and memory have used rodent paradigms modified for use in reptiles. However, ecologically important aspects of the physiology and behavior of this taxonomic group must be taken into account when testing for spatially based cognition. Here, we describe modifications of the dry land Barnes maze and associated testing protocol that can improve performance when probing for spatial learning and memory ability in small squamate reptiles. The described paradigm and procedures were successfully used with male side-blotched lizards (Uta stansburiana), demonstrating that spatial learning and memory can be assessed in this taxonomic group with an ecologically relevant apparatus and protocol.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Chemical Engineering(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)