Y-Maze Test

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  • The Y-Maze is a behavioral assay of spontaneous alternation and examines the function of the basal forebrain, hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, and septum. Described over 80 years ago, it has become a classical assessment in rodents (Dennis & Sollenberger, 1934).
  • This apparatus has three arms of equal length at an angle of 120º from one another.
  • The apparatus is the following dimensions for each arm: 15in x 3in x 9in (40cm x 8cm x 23cm) (LxWxH).

Materials for Y-Maze Test

  • Animals: Mice, rats, honey bees, zebrafish
  • Sample Size:  n ≥ 12+ animals
  • Lighting: 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 Y-Maze Test

  • Lights: Lamps
  • Acclimation: There is no required acclimation period prior to examination.
  • Privacy: The examiner needs to be at least 5ft (1.5m) away from the testing apparatus.
  • Visual Cues: Pictures can be placed above the apparatus in the direction of the choice arms.
  • Photoelectric beam: All mazes with arm entry can be equipped with photoelectric beams.

Software Analysis for Y-Maze Test

  • Automated behavioral tracking software: View our list of recommended software for behavioral analysis (Coming Soon!).


  1. Wolf, A., Bauer, B., Abner, E. L., Ashkenazy-Frolinger, T., & Hartz, A. M. (2016). A Comprehensive Behavioral Test Battery to Assess Learning and Memory in 129S6/Tg2576 MicePloS one11(1), e0147733. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0147733.
  2. Lennartz, R.C. The role of extramaze cues in spontaneous alternation in a plus-mazeLearning & Behavior 36, 138–144 (2008) doi:10.3758/LB.36.2.138.
  3. Kraeuter AK., Guest P.C., Sarnyai Z. (2019) The Y-Maze for Assessment of Spatial Working and Reference Memory in Mice. In: Guest P. (eds) Pre-Clinical Models. Methods in Molecular Biology, vol 1916. Humana Press, New York, NY.
  4. Conrad, C. D., Galea, L. A. M., Kuroda, Y., & McEwen, B. S. (1996). Chronic stress impairs rat spatial memory on the Y maze, and this effect is blocked by tianeptine treatment. Behavioral Neuroscience, 110(6), 1321–1334. https://doi.org/10.1037/0735-7044.110.6.1321
  5. Cheryl D Conrad, Sonia J Lupien, Leila C Thanasoulis, Bruce S McEwen. The effects of Type I and Type II corticosteroid receptor agonists on exploratory behavior and spatial memory in the Y-maze. Brain Research. Volume 759. Issue 1. 1997. Pages 76-83. ISSN 0006-8993. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0006-8993(97)00236-9.
  6. Miedel, C. J., Patton, J. M., Miedel, A. N., Miedel, E. S., Levenson, J. M. Assessment of Spontaneous Alternation, Novel Object Recognition and Limb Clasping in Transgenic Mouse Models of Amyloid-β and Tau NeuropathologyJ. Vis. Exp. (123), e55523, doi:10.3791/55523 (2017).
  7. Prieur, E. A. and Jadavji, N. M. (2019). Assessing Spatial Working Memory Using the Spontaneous Alternation Y-maze Test in Aged Male Mice. Bio-protocol 9(3): e3162. DOI: 10.21769/BioProtoc.3162.

Additional information

Weight 21.87 lbs
Dimensions 15 × 3 × 9 in

Honey bee, Mouse, Rat, Zebrafish





Maze Type

Elevated, Enclosed


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