Extinction, renewal, and spontaneous recovery of a spatial preference in the water maze

K. Matthew Lattal, Michael T. Mullen, Ted Abel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Four experiments with C57BL/6 mice investigated extinction of a spatial preference in the Morris water maze. In Experiment 1, a spatial preference was extinguished by exposing mice to the water maze in the absence of a platform but in the presence of the distal spatial cues. In Experiment 2, extinction occurred when the platform was removed from the pool, when it was presented in random locations, or when it was presented consistently in the opposite location. Contextual renewal (Experiment 3) and spontaneous recovery (Experiment 4) of spatial preferences argue against an interpretation of extinction in terms of unlearning and instead suggest that extinction in the water maze, like extinction in Pavlovian conditioning, suppresses the original association. Implications of these findings for theories of spatial learning and hippocampal function are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1017-1028
Number of pages12
JournalBehavioral Neuroscience
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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