Correlation of behavioral and cerebrovascular functions in the aging rat

Harold Goldman, Robert F Berman, Samuel Gershon, Sharon L. Murphy, Harvey J. Altman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF), maze performance and the influence of environmental enrichment on these parameters were studied in Sprague-Dawley rats aged 6, 12 and 24 months. Learning ability in a complex sequential T-maze (Stone maze) progressively declined with increasing age in rats which were normally housed in standard caging. Environmental enrichment significantly improved maze performance but did not prevent the age-dependent impairment. Following completion of the learning studies, rCBF was measured in each of 13 brain regions in conscious, unrestrained, resting animals. In the absence of any significant change in cardiac output over the entire age range, rCBF was lower in all brain regions by an average of 16% in 12-14 month old rats and 8% in aged rats (24-26 months old); the occipital cortex, inferior and superior colliculi and hypothalamus were particularly affected regions in both age groups. The sharp reduction of rCBF that occurred between 6 and 12 months of age did not reflect, and probably preceded the progressive decline in maze performance. Such highly significant age-related changes in rCBF were not affected, however, by environmental enrichment procedures. This contrasts with the substantial influence of enrichment on maze performance. Finally, mean brain blood flow and mean cortical blood flow correlated inversely and significantly with average daily numbers of errors made by 24 month old rats during Stone maze acquisition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)409-416
Number of pages8
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1987
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Environmental enrichment
  • Learning
  • Rat
  • Regional cerebral blood flow
  • Stone maze

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Neurology
  • Psychology(all)


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