Free Maze: A reconfigurable maze that offers flexibility over task design

Automated behavioral testing systems enabling real-time measurements of neural activity with unprecedented precision. 

Transition seamlessly between DIY modular maze configurations.

With the Free Maze system for mice and rats, researchers can design unique modular mazes to their specifications. The Free Maze consists of individual corridor components that can be easily reconfigured into a variety of different maze types. Build upon mazes by simply adding more corridors. Mazes can be assembled with increasing complexity depending on the experimenter’s goal.

The Free Maze provides ultimate flexibility by allowing researchers to:

  • Design your modular maze to your specifications.

  • Easily reconfigure mazes for a variety of different tasks. Examples include the t-maze, w-maze, plus maze, radial arm maze, and figure 8 maze

  • Build mazes of increased complexity by simply adding more corridors.

System mountable on breadboard floor.

System Components

Maze Design Examples

Applications

Testing Spatial Memory in Rodents?
There are several tests for spatial memory in rodents, and one of the most common is the T-Maze.

The T-Maze is named so because it is shaped like a T. In the T-Maze, the animal starts at the base of the T and must choose between two arms to receive a reward that is placed at the end of either arm.

One of the most common tests using the T-Maze is the spontaneous alternation test. In the spontaneous alternation test, a reward is placed at the end of both arms. On the first trial, the animal chooses either arm and gets rewarded. On the next trial, the animal must remember the path it took previously and choose the opposite path to get rewarded.

Animals with deficits in working memory will have trouble remembering the previous path it took. These types of deficits are often seen in Alzheimer’s disease, and therefore the T-Maze and spontaneous alternation task are useful for testing rodent models of Alzheimers’s.

Other spatial memory tests

W-Maze:

Similar to the Y-Maze, the W-Maze can be used to measure spatial memory. Animals learn to alternate between arms based on their memory of the previously visited arms or based on where a reward was located. Instead of two choice points, the W-maze offers three choice points. 

Radial arm maze:

The radial arm maze consists of eight (or any number) equidistantly spaced arms all extending from a small circular central platform. At the end of each arm there is a food port, that cannot be seen from the central platform.  The animal starts at the central port and is allowed to freely access any arm of the maze.

This maze test measures both reference and working memory. The animal must remember which arms contain food (reference) as well as which arms they have previously visited (working memory). 

Figure 8 Maze:

The figure 8 maze similarly can be used to measure reference memory like the radial arm maze. Animals explore the maze in search of a food reward, and their locomotor activity can be tracked. Animals that have more exploratory behavior tend to have higher cognitive functioning. At the same time, the animal must remember the location where the reward was located, which measures reference memory.

Elevated plus maze:

The elevated plus maze is used to measure anxiety.  It contains two open and two closed arms. Animals with more anxiety tend to spend less time in the open arms and more time in the enclosed arms because more anxious animals have more fear of open spaces.

 

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