Taniuchi, T., Ohgi, A., Nishikawa, M. 2019. Returning to home cage serves as an effective reward for maze learning in rats. Behavioural Processes 164, 175-177.
This study examined the effectiveness in rats of ‘returning to home cage’ as a reward for learning a Lashley III maze. Rats could return to their home cage directly (Direct HC group) or they could be removed manually by an experimenter from the maze’s goal box (Indirect HC group). In the third group, hungry rats received a food reward in the goal box (Food group). The Direct HC group reliably learned the maze and its performance was very similar to that of the Food group. In contrast, performance by the Indirect HC group was significantly poorer than the Direct HC group, as well as the Food group, possibly due to the negative impact of handling during removal from the goal box. These results suggest that a ‘home cage reward’ is as effective a procedure for rats in maze learning as previously reported in mice (Blizard et al., 2003, 2006).