The effect of stress on spatial learning in rats
Research investigating the effects of stress on spatial learning and memory in rats is conflicting and often unclear. Some research indicates that the length of time or frequency of stress induction has an effect on rats' ability to learn and remember a spatial memory task. Other research indicates that the type of stressor plays an important role. In this experiment, the role of housing, individual or group, along with induction of restraint stress was examined. Lew and F344 rats were divided in four groups based on housing (single v. grouped) and experimental condition (restraint stress v. non-restraint control) and tested on a Morris water maze. The results indicated that, in general, F344 rats learned and remembered the maze better than the Lew rats. In both strains, the group-housed rats performed better during the acquisition trials than the single-housed rats. These results provide interesting insight into how housing conditions and rat strain play a role in learning and memory tasks.