The T-Maze and Effect of Music on Learning Ability of Mice (again.)

dag.stenberg at dag.stenberg at
Sat Nov 13 05:51:13 EST 1999

edchong at wrote:
> I'm a 15 year old student doing a project on the effect of music on the
> learning ability of mice.

Your problem is very interesting even to this 58y newbie student of mice...

> In my experiment, I am using the standard T-Maze to test the learning
> ability. However, very often the mice do not seem to want to complete
> the maze in the shortest time. Instead they just remain in the same
> position and do nothing. 
> I've observed is that it always stays in the same arm of the "T" in the
> maze. It does not want to venture into the junction point.

I have heard that mice are afraid of the vast spaces in a rat-size
T-maze. For mice, the open arms have to be short. I do hope that
somebody can be more specific.

> Secondly, one of my teachers says that my experimental design has a
> flaw. In my experiment, I have 5 groups of mice, 5 mice each. One group
> as control, the rest of the groups exposed to music of different types.
> On Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, I play music to say, Group A and B, (2
> hours a day) and conduct the T-maze test on Group C and D. On Tuesdays,
> Thursdays and Saturdays, the procedure is reversed. Group A and B are
> tested while C and D listen to music. My idea is to see the long term
> effect of music on mice. My teacher says that it will have no effect at
> all, and advises that I play the music WHILE the mice are running
> through the maze. Or perhaps I should play the music just before I do
> the testing? What should I do?

Well, I do not understand either what you are trying to prove with this
design, and I do not think that it will show anything, sorry. Groups A
and B are indentical, as are C and D. both receive music on two days a
week before being tested on the next; the C and D have an extra learning
session on Monday, and an extra music session on Saturday. You
apparently test the E group on some days, too.

I have not thought properly about your test, but either you want to know if
1) music during learning improves learning. Then you should play music
during the T-maze test.
2) music during consolidation of memory improves learning. The you
should have groups that are tested, then exposed to music after the
test. It is difficult to know for how long - it could be two hours, it
could be all day, it could be for 2-3 days after the learning situation
(in humans, good sleep after a learning situation will continue to
improve the retention of memory for four nights after the learning
situation!) You could try different durations of music in different groups.
3) music prior to learning improves learning. Then you should play the
music before the test.

In all groups, the amount and the timing of T-maze testing should be the
same. Also, it is difficult to know if the test can be repeated (to A
and B you give three exposures-tests with no days in between, and the
difference to the situation in C and D is too small). Further, the types
of music mice like are probably not the ones humans like, so any
effects, even if relevant to mice, are likely not relevant to humans.
Although your problem is interesting in its methodological principles,
it is not an experiment I would regard as useful.

I would appreciate comments to Edmund from other "neuroscientists" here.

Dag Stenberg

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