Assessing spatial learning and memory in small squamate reptiles

Lara D. Ladage, Tracie E. Cobb Irvin, Victoria A. Gould

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Clinical research has leveraged a variety of paradigms to assess cognitive decline, commonly targeting spatial learning and memory abilities. However, interest in the cognitive processes of nonmodel species, typically within an ecological context, has also become an emerging field of study. In particular, interest in the cognitive processes in reptiles is growing although experimental studies on reptilian cognition are sparse. The few reptilian studies that have experimentally tested for spatial learning and memory have used rodent paradigms modified for use in reptiles. However, ecologically important aspects of the physiology and behavior of this taxonomic group must be taken into account when testing for spatially based cognition. Here, we describe modifications of the dry land Barnes maze and associated testing protocol that can improve performance when probing for spatial learning and memory ability in small squamate reptiles. The described paradigm and procedures were successfully used with male side-blotched lizards (Uta stansburiana), demonstrating that spatial learning and memory can be assessed in this taxonomic group with an ecologically relevant apparatus and protocol.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere55103
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number119
StatePublished - Jan 3 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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