Neurochemical Research

, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 600–608 | Cite as

The Barnes Maze Task Reveals Specific Impairment of Spatial Learning Strategy in the Intrahippocampal Kainic Acid Model for Temporal Lobe Epilepsy

  • Yana Van Den Herrewegen
  • Lissa Denewet
  • An Buckinx
  • Giulia Albertini
  • Ann Van Eeckhaut
  • Ilse SmoldersEmail author
  • Dimitri De Bundel
Original Paper


Temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) is an acquired form of focal epilepsy, in which patients not only suffer from unprovoked, devastating seizures, but also from severe comorbidities, such as cognitive dysfunction. Correspondingly, several animal models of TLE exhibit memory dysfunction, especially spatial memory. The Morris water maze test is the most commonly used test for assessing spatial learning and memory in rodents. However, high stress and poor swimming abilities are common confounders and may contribute to misinterpretation. Particularly epileptic mice show altered behaviour during the test as they fail to understand the paradigm context. In the Barnes maze test, a dry-land maze test for spatial learning and memory that uses milder aversive stimuli, these drawbacks have not yet been reported. In the present study, we use this task to evaluate spatial learning and memory in the intrahippocampal kainic acid mouse model of TLE. We demonstrate that the epileptic mice understand the Barnes maze paradigm context, as they learn the location of the escape-chamber by using a serial search strategy but fail to develop the more efficient spatial search strategy. Our data indicate that the Barnes maze may be a better alternative to the Morris water maze for assessing search strategies and impairment of learning and memory in epileptic mice.


The Barnes maze Temporal lobe epilepsy Intrahippocampal post-status epilepticus Kainic Acid model Spatial learning and memory Search strategy 



Yana Van Den Herrewegen is a research fellow of the Fund for Scientific Research Flanders (FWO). An Buckinx is a research fellow of the Fund for Strategic Basic Research (SB-FWO). We would like to thank Gino De Smet for his technical assistance. This study was supported by the Scientific Fund Willy Gepts of UZ Brussel, the Queen Elizabeth Medical Foundation (ING prize) and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures were carried out in accordance with the National Rules on Animal Experimentation and were approved by the Ethical Committee for Animal Experiments of the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium.

Research Involving Human Participants

This article does not contain any studies with human participants.

Supplementary material

11064_2018_2610_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (211 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 210 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Drug Analysis and Drug Information, Research Group Experimental Pharmacology, Center for Neurosciences (C4N)Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)BrusselsBelgium

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