Modular Maze System, the Free Maze Setup

Modular Maze System, the Free Maze Setup

Modular Maze System, The Free Maze Setup

The Free Maze is quite easy to configure, you start by screwing all of the fixed stands into place on the breadboard floor.

The orientation and position can be easily changed to give you different designs, simply slide the pegs at the bottom of each stand into a hole on the floor and then use the round black screw on an empty hole to secure it into place.

Next, you will attach each corridor unit. For the T-maze set-up, the center T corridors will divide the maze in 2, the straight corridors make up the length of each side of the maze, and then the end left and right corridors will sit under the pellet dispensers.

Finally, you will go ahead and attach the pellet dispenser units. In this video, they are placed at opposite ends of the T-maze


Running Multiple Behavioral Tests?

Running Multiple Behavioral Tests?

The Free Maze, our reconfigurable modular maze, has you covered!

With the Free Maze for mice and rats, all components are reconfigurable, meaning you can easily disassemble and reassemble your maze with unique specifications. This allows you to create different mazes for different behavioral assays using the same piece of equipment, instead of having to purchase individual mazes for each assay you want to run.

The standard setup is the T-Maze, but individual corridor components can be mixed and matched to build your custom maze.

This reconfigurable modular maze was designed to offer users flexibility instead of being constrained to a single maze type. Ultimately, the maze design is up to the user’s imagination.

Examples of different corridor types offered with the Free Maze

The reconfigurable modular maze system also comes with photo beam sensors that can be placed anywhere along the maze to record the animal’s position. Breaks in photo beam sensors are also used to trigger automatic doors that open up new pathways for the animal while they use the maze.

Not only can users disassemble corridors to construct different maze types, but they can also move the location of the photo beam sensors and door units, to change the trajectory of the animal’s path within the same maze. Corridors are sized separately for both mice and rats.

Our reconfigurable modular maze system is ideal for learning and memory experiments assessing:

  • Spatial memory
  • Basic working memory
  • Differences between working and reference memory
  • Impairments in the working memory

The reconfigurable modular maze is also completely automated. Photobeam sensors, doors, and reward dispensers are controlled by TaskStudio software. With this software, users can create and save tasks specific to each maze type, using the Trial Builder. The software makes it easy to run through different trials within the same session or across sessions.

Performing in vivo electrophysiology or optical imaging in freely moving animals? The maze is also compatible with in vivo electrophysiology and optical imaging techniques.

Learn more about the Free Maze by visiting our product page or connecting with an expert.

Hippocampal Place Cells: Remembering events in space and time.

Hippocampal Place Cells: Remembering events in space and time.

Episodic memory refers to the collection of past personal experiences that occurred at a particular time and place, a highly effective process for future planning. Dr. Tulving coined this process: mental time travel (Tulving 1983).

How do place cells fit into episodic memory retrieval?

Place cells respond to a particular location in the physical world. The real-time activity of place cells represents where a rat is in space. When rats pause, place cells replay allowing the rat to mentally map out the route it needs to take. After spatial navigation in an environment, hippocampal place cells replay their activity, which can be useful for future planning.

Dr. Takahashi at Doshisha University is studying how exactly the reactivation of hippocampal place cells contributes to future planning when rats are navigating a spatial environment.

To do this he has rats perform a variety of tasks inside of a figure 8 maze.

Adapted from Takahashi 2015

In one maze, rats need to assess which one of two lights is lit and run towards it. In the other task, rats need to remember the direction they went previously and go in the opposite direction.

As rats perform the mazes, he simultaneously monitors hippocampal place cell activity using implanted tetrodes to examine what place cells are doing at each decision-making point.

Hippocampal Place Cell Replay for Memory Retrieval

So far, Dr. Takahashi has discovered that place cells replay information about both the path the rat needs to take as well as the task it needs to carry out. That is, hippocampal place cell firing conveys both the “where” information and “what” information during retrieval. Previously, hippocampal place cell replay was thought to only contribute spatial information during memory retrieval. However, these results suggest that hippocampal place cell activity can simultaneously represent both spatial and nonspatial information!

In fact, it was this research that was the inspiration for our newest product, The Free Maze. Dr. Takahashi teamed up with O’Hara to design the first modular maze for mice and rats that researchers can design and redesign themselves!

Learn more about the Free Maze here!
Check out the full article here!

Part IV – We Visit Doshisha University in Kyoto

Part IV – We Visit Doshisha University in Kyoto

While in Kyoto, I traveled to Doshisha University to visit the lab of Dr. Takahashi, who worked with O’Hara to design the Free Maze, a reconfigurable maze for learning and memory tests.

Me with Dr. Takahashi at Doshisha University

Dr. Takahashi studies hippocampal place cell activity in mice and rats, and wanted to build a maze system that he could easily change in order to understand how place cells adapt to changes in environments.

According to Dr. Takahashi, “The Free Maze was designed to be flexible, reliable, and repeatable.”
“We built this maze in order to design a system where users could build their own tasks to their own specifications, change maze designs rapidly, and reconfigure previous designs easily.”

For his research, Dr. Takahashi records population activity of hippocampal place cells in freely moving rats as they navigate through the Free Maze.

The Free Maze is an extremely unique product. It’s like legos for scientists!

The original paper detailing the Free Maze is currently under review and should be available soon.

The Free Maze for Rats

Next stop – Tokyo Medical and Dental University