Encyclopedia of Experiments: Biology
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The Barnes Maze is a circular platform with equally spaced holes around its edge and an escape box under a target hole. Lab animals navigate through the maze to find the target hole and escape from innately aversive stimuli like open spaces and bright lights.
To begin, place the subject, for example a mouse, in the center of the maze under a dark chamber. Then, lift the chamber and release the animal in the arena. To motivate the subject to effectively enter the target hole, use a mildly aversive stimulus such as ultrasonic sound.
The trial ends when the mouse enters the target hole or a predefined time has elapsed. Spatial learning and memory are measured during each trial by recording the number of holes that the subject explored and the time it took to complete the trial as well as mapping the animal's path and spatial navigation.