A method for evaluating passive avoidance- and escape-learning responses simultaneously has been developed for the study of learning and memory in mice. Prolongation of the step-down latency and shortening of the escape latency in the retention test depended on the strength of the voltage of the electric shocks delivered during the training test. Therefore, the step-down latency and escape latency may be good parameters of learning and memory performance. By cycloheximide treatment immediately after training, the step-down latency and escape latency were shortened and prolonged, respectively, in a dose-related manner, and the relationship between the step-down latency and escape latency was significant. Treatment with cycloheximide within 30 min after training caused significant amnesia, but not after more than 60 min. Furthermore, amnesic action of cycloheximide developed 24 hr after the treatment, but not within 4 hr. On the other hand, the step-down latency and/or the escape latency in the training test were changed by pretreatment with diethyldithiocarbamate and scopolamine. Therefore, the amnesic action of these drugs administered before the training should be investigated in detail. The present method, simultaneously estimating passive avoidance- and escape-learning responses, may be useful for the development of experimental amnesia models.
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