These experiments were designed to assess some of the sensory, motor and cognitive alterations that occur in aged cats. Three groups of cats (1-3, 5-9 and 11-16 years of age) were tested in four behavioral tasks to assess age-dependent changes in locomotor activity, fine motor coordination, reactivity to auditory stimuli and spatial reversal learning. In tests of locomotor activity, 11-16 year old cats displayed altered patterns of habituation compared to 1-3 and 5-9 year cats. There were no decrements in fine motor coordination in the 11-16 year cats as measured by their ability to traverse planks of varying width or by their scores on a neurological examination. The 11-16 and 5-9 year cats both displayed increased reactivity to auditory stimuli. On tests of spatial reversal learning, 11-16 year cats displayed superior performance compared to 5-9 or 1-3 year animals, making fewer errors and requiring fewer trials to reach criterion. These findings indicate that a series of age-related behavioral changes occurs in the cat. Some of these may be related to morphological and neurophysiological alterations in neurons in the caudate nucleus.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Supported by USPHS Grants AG 01558 and HD 05958.
- Aged cats
- Locomotor activity
- Spatial reversal performance