[bottom of page 19 of week 6 handout]

The radial maze. At the beginning of each daily trial one food pellet is placed out of sight in each little bucket at the end of the arms of the maze. Rats learn to go down each arm just once every day, rarely retracing their steps. In the original report (Olton and Samuelson, 1976) rats made 5.7 new choices in their first eight attempts in the first 5 daily trials, but 7.6/8 in the second 5 daily trials (they were thoroughly adapted to the maze before these 10 days of training). With a 17 arm maze, they typically choose 14 different arms in the first 17 choices. Test show that the choices depend on visual landmarks, rather than odours. For instance, the rat may be confined to the central area, under a cover, between choices. During the interval the experimenter can exchange arms already visited with some that have not been visited, and this shows that the rat is more likely to explore an already visited arm again if it is in a new geographical position. (See Walker, 1987, p 143-4 or Lieberman, 2000, p. 382)