Of mice and men: Virtual Hebb—Williams mazes permit comparison of spatial learning across species
We developed a computer-generated virtual environment to test humans, for the first time, on the Hebb—Williams mazes. The goal was to provide a standardized test that could be used to directly compare human performance with that of C57BL/6J mice performing in real versions of the mazes. Such a comparison seems crucial if conclusions regarding genetic manipulations of rodents are to be mapped onto human cognitive disorders. The learning curves across species were strikingly similar, lending support to the rodent model of human spatial memory. Humans learned faster than rodents in both the acquisition and the test portions of the protocol, and females of both species were less efficient in solving these problems than males. These results represent the first modern comparison of human and rodent learning that uses the same test of spatial problem solving.