A test of the reward-value hypothesis

Rats retain source memory (memory for the origin of information) over a retention interval of at least 1 week, whereas their spatial working memory (radial maze locations) decays within approximately 1 day. We have argued that different forgetting functions dissociate memory systems. However, the two tasks, in our previous work, used different reward values. The source memory task used multiple pellets of a preferred food flavor (chocolate), whereas the spatial working memory task provided access to a single pellet of standard chow-flavored food at each location. Thus, according to the reward-value hypothesis, enhanced performance in the source memory task stems from enhanced encoding/memory of a preferred reward. We tested the reward- value hypothesis by using a standard 8-arm radial maze task to compare spatial working memory accuracy of rats rewarded with either multiple chocolate or chow pellets at each location using a between-subjects design. The reward-value hypothesis predicts superior accuracy for high-valued rewards. We documented equivalent spatial memory accuracy for high- and low-value rewards. Importantly, a 24-h retention interval produced equivalent spatial working memory accuracy for both flavors. These data are inconsistent with the reward-value hypothesis and suggest that reward value does not explain our earlier findings that source memory survives unusually long retention intervals.

Publication Date:
Mar 01 2018
Date Submitted:
Aug 10 2018
Animal Cognition
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 Record created 2018-08-10, last modified 2019-04-03

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