Differential effects of spaced vs. massed training in long-term object-identity and object-location recognition memory

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Here we tested whether the well-known superiority of spaced training over massed training is equally evident in both object identity and object location recognition memory. We trained animals with objects placed in a variable or in a fixed location to produce a location-independent object identity memory or a location-dependent object representation. The training consisted of 5 trials that occurred either on one day (Massed) or over the course of 5 consecutive days (Spaced). The memory test was done in independent groups of animals either 24 h or 7 days after the last training trial. In each test the animals were exposed to either a novel object, when trained with the objects in variable locations, or to a familiar object in a novel location, when trained with objects in fixed locations. The difference in time spent exploring the changed versus the familiar objects was used as a measure of recognition memory. For the object-identity-trained animals, spaced training produced clear evidence of recognition memory after both 24 h and 7 days, but massed-training animals showed it only after 24 h. In contrast, for the object-location-trained animals, recognition memory was evident after both retention intervals and with both training procedures. When objects were placed in variable locations for the two types of training and the test was done with a brand-new location, only the spaced-training animals showed recognition at 24 h, but surprisingly, after 7 days, animals trained using both procedures were able to recognize the change, suggesting a post-training consolidation process. We suggest that the two training procedures trigger different neural mechanisms that may differ in the two segregated streams that process object information and that may consolidate differently.

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