Date of Completion

Fall 4-30-2021

Thesis Advisor(s)

Etan J. Markus

Honors Major

Biological Sciences


Applied Behavior Analysis | Behavioral Disciplines and Activities | Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Cognition and Perception | Neurosciences | Social Psychology


The hippocampus is the part of the brain that is involved in memory and navigation. Neurons in the hippocampus, known as place cells, fire in specific locations within this region of the brain as the subject navigates through their environment. As these cells fire, they create a map-like representation of this environment. However if the environment is altered in any way, the place cell firing pattern is adjusted to incorporate this new information. This adjustment will inevitably cause subjects to take more time to complete their task. The goal of our testing was to assess how various manipulations, both spatial and social, of rats’ environment will affect the latency of rats’ as they ran back and forth on a linear maze for a food reward. Rats ran on the maze for a total of three days per manipulation, with Day 0 being a familiar day in which they ran the maze as they were trained to do so and Days 1 and 2 involving the novel manipulation. Each day the rats ran three sessions, with Session 1 and 3 being familiar and Session 2 incorporating the novel scenario. Latency on familiar trials showed rats taking approximately 15 seconds to complete a trial. As the experiment progressed the rats showed lower latencies at the start of the session (about 10 seconds) with a slowing (to about 15 seconds) as the session continued. This indicates that the rats were learning as they were exposed to the linear maze over time. Furthermore, rats showed a higher latency during the novel trajectory scenarios than in the familiar scenarios. This increase was not seen on Day 2 when the scenario was no longer novel. Finally, when presented with novel social odors, rats showed no change in their latency across sessions. This indicates that the novel trajectory scenarios had more of an impact on rat behavior than the novel social odor scenarios.