REVIEWSNeuroprotective effects of behavioural training and nicotine on age-related deficits in spatial learningCarrasco, Carmena; Vicens, Palomab; Redolat, RosaaAuthor Information aDepartment of Psychobiology, Faculty of Psychology, University of Valencia, Blasco Ibañez 21, Valencia 46010 bDepartment of Psychology, Faculty of Education Sciences and Psychology, University of Rovira-Virgili, Carretera de Valls s/n, Tarragona 43007, Spain Correspondence and requests for reprints to Dr Rosa Redolat, Department of Psychobiology, Faculty of Psychology, University of Valencia, Blasco Ibáñez 21, Valencia 46010, Spain E-mail: [email protected] Sponsorship: This work was supported by a grant from Education and Science Ministry (Plan Nacional de Investigación Científica, Desarrollo e Innovación Tecnológica) (Spain) and European Community (FEDER) funds. Grant number: BSN2003-02780. Received 30 March 2006; Accepted as revised 28 June 2006 Behavioural Pharmacology: September 2006 - Volume 17 - Issue 5-6 - p 441-452 Buy Abstract Studies in humans and animals show a clear decline in spatial memory with age and several approaches have been adopted to alleviate this impairment. The purpose of our review is to assess the studies that have suggested the possible neuroprotective actions of behavioural training and nicotine–applied both independently and in conjunction–on age-related deficits in spatial learning. Both spatial pretraining and nonspatial experiences influence an animal's performance in spatial tasks. In aged rats, the experience of training in the water maze task increases the number of newly generated neurons in the hippocampus. The neuroprotective effects of nicotine have been demonstrated in both in-vitro and in-vivo models, although the molecular mechanisms underlying these actions are not yet fully understood. It had been concluded in different studies that nicotine can improve, impair or have no effect on performance in the water maze. Neurobiological data also suggest an interaction between nicotine and prior experience in complex tasks, although few studies have raised the question of whether nicotine treatment and training in spatial tasks may contribute in an interactive manner to alleviate spatial cognition impairment associated with the ageing process. Different findings suggest that past experience could be a confounding variable in longitudinal studies that aim to evaluate the neuroprotective effects of nicotine on age-related deficits in spatial learning. © 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.