The T-Maze is a behavioral assay of cognitive ability. It assesses reference memory, working memory, and spontaneous exploration. It also provides insight into the function of the hippocampus and septum in models of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease or other diseases that impact hippocampal function.
The apparatus has three arms of equal length at an angle of 90º from one another. There are guillotine doors and a small partition at the top of the maze separating the left and right “GOAL” arms.
Each arm has a small hole that can hold food within a well. The apparatus can have opaque or clear arms and walls for exploration with the following dimensions for each arm: 15in x 6in x 9in (40cm x 15cm x 23cm) (LxWxH).
Materials for T-Maze
- Animals: Mice, rats
- Sample Size: n ≥ 12 animals
- Lights: Lamps
- Video: Video camera mounted on our portable camera stand with articulating arm.
- Cleaning: SporKlenz, 10% Bleach, or 70% Ethanol
- Optional: Dark box for the ends of the arms is sold separately as an add-on modification of the Y-maze.
Testing Conditions for T-Maze
- Lights: Confirm the area is well-lit to ensure that alternation is not associated with preference for darker areas of the maze
- Training: Discrete trial procedure; no fasting required to stimulate motivation to explore or food-seeking behaviors.
- Privacy: The examiner at least (5 feet/1.5m) away from the testing apparatus.
- Stimulus: Patterns or objects that the animal must respond to and engage in exploration
- Analysis: Observation/review of footage; automated video tracking software for behavioral analysis
- Pairing test with other assays: Two alternation trials per day can be run before the other scheduled tests
- Automated T-Maze (Coming Soon): Automated mazes are equipped with photoelectric beams and cameras to record successful entry into an arm of the maze.
Software Analysis for T-Maze
- Automated behavioral tracking software:
- Our list of recommended software for behavioral analysis. (Coming Soon)
Data Analysis for T-Maze
- Total entries: All four limbs must cross into the arm.
- Number (#) of alterations: Alternation is the motivation of the animal to explore an environment and to locate food, water, mates or shelter.
- Side preference (%): calculate the number of entries within either the right or left side of the maze versus the total number of entries in each trial.
- Percent (%) alteration (each day of testing): Normal animals have around 75% alternation. Anything ≤ 50% is considered a chance alternation or may imply hippocampal damage–depending on experimental groups.
- Control animals may have ≥80% alternation while hippocampal lesion or dysfunction animals have ≤60% alternation.
- Deacon, R., Rawlins, J. T-maze alternation in the rodent. Nat Protoc 1, 7–12 (2006) doi:10.1038/nprot.2006.2
- Wu, C., Lerner, F. M., Couto E Silva, A., Possoit, H. E., Hsieh, T. H., Neumann, J. T., … Lee, R. (2018). Utilizing the Modified T-Maze to Assess Functional Memory Outcomes After Cardiac Arrest. Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE, (131), 56694. doi:10.3791/56694.