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NMDAR-dependent forms of synaptic plasticity in brain regions like the hippocampus are widely believed to provide the neural substrate for long-term associative memory formation. However, the experimental data are equivocal at best and may suggest a more nuanced role for NMDARs and synaptic plasticity in memory. Much of the experimental data available comes from studies in genetically modified mice in which NMDAR subunits have been deleted or mutated in order to disrupt NMDAR function. Behavioral assessment of long-term memory in these mice has involved tests like the Morris watermaze and the radial arm maze. Here we describe these behavioral tests and some of the different testing protocols that can be used to assess memory performance. We discuss the importance of distinguishing selective effects on learning and memory processes from nonspecific effects on sensorimotor or motivational aspects of performance.

Original publication




Journal article


Methods Mol Biol

Publication Date





107 - 138


Genetically modified mice, Hippocampus, NMDA receptors, Radial arm maze, Reversal learning, Spatial reference memory, Spatial working memory, Morris watermaze, Animals, Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate, Mice, Memory, Long-Term, Maze Learning, Spatial Memory, Hippocampus, Behavior, Animal, Neuronal Plasticity