Retrograde amnesia in rats with lesions to the hippocampus on a test of spatial memory

Gordon Winocur*, Morris Moscovitch, Douglas A. Caruana, Malcolm A. Binns

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study examined remote spatial memory in a test that spans several months to determine whether remote memories are spared relative to more recent ones, as predicted by models of memory consolidation. At 3, 6 or 12 months of age, groups of rats received forced-choice training as to the location of food reward in a cross maze. At 12.5 months, rats received bilateral neurotoxic lesions to the hippocampus or a control surgical procedure and 2 weeks later their memory for the spatial location was tested. Their performance was compared to that of rats with hippocampal or control lesions with no prior training on several measures of savings. The hippocampal group with no pre-training, as expected, was severely impaired in learning the location of the food reward. Compared to this group, rats with hippocampal lesions that were pre-trained consistently performed better at the shortest training-surgery interval but not at the longer ones. That is, rats with hippocampal lesions exhibited retrograde amnesia at all training-surgery intervals and a forgetting curve that paralleled that of the control groups. The results were interpreted within a framework that distinguishes between relational and associative context, and as providing evidence that the hippocampus is necessary for the retention and retrieval of memories that are bound to relational context, regardless of the age of the memory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1580-1590
Number of pages11
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jul 2005


  • Brain-damage
  • Cross-maze
  • Forgetting
  • Hippocampus
  • Rats
  • Retrograde amnesia
  • Spatial memory


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