The barnes maze is a well-established paradigm used to study and measure spatial learning and memory. It is an alternative to the Morris Water Maze, which may not always be appropriate for use with all mouse strains due to its reliance on intact motor function and stamina (for swimming), and the additional stress involved from being a swimming task. Barnes maze consists of a circular table with several holes that can be blocked, baited, or equipped with an "escape box." In the classic paradigm, mice are placed on the maze (which is an innately "scary" open space) and they are recorded as they try to find the hole that contains the escape box (a "safe," enclosed compartment). External, spatial cues are placed on the walls of the room the maze is in to aid in this process. The mouse is placed on the maze in an opaque start box which makes the use of any egocentric spatial cues impossible. The latency to find the escape box and performance on a later probe test serve as measures of spatial memory in this task.
The t-maze is an apparatus used for various learning tasks. It can be used as a passive observation task that measures various types of memory. A mouse is placed in the "starting" arm of the maze, facing away from the center. The entries into the other arms as well as number of arm alternations are recorded and used as a measure of working memory. In a slightly more complicated task, spatial memory can be assessed. Here, a mouse is placed in the "starting" arm of the maze with access to only one of the two other arms (both of which are marked by external, spatial cues). The mouse is allowed to explore freely. The next day, the mouse is again placed in the starting arm, but now has access to both of the other arms. The amount of time the mouse spends in the "novel" (previously blocked) arm is compared to time spent in the familiar arm and used as a measure of spatial memory. The t-maze can also be used for two-alternative choice paradigms with the addition of arm-baiting.
The y-maze can be used for all of the same tasks as the t-maze, but allows for the mouse to see both of the choice arms (and whatever they may contain) when standing in the center of the maze.
For Elevated Plus Maze and Elevated Zero Maze please see "Anxiety & Stress"