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discoveries magazine

The Alzheimer’s Maze

A photo illustrattion by Bill Pollard representing the Alzheimer's Maze.




In a study published in Nature Scientific Reports, the investigators found that normal mice explored the maze’s corridors in specific patterns, suggesting that they remembered the arms previously visited and also detected changes in color and intensity of light. 

By contrast, the Alzheimer’s-model mice were less able to alternate and transitioned more often between the same two arms. Repetitious movements made by these mice were not random but instead were linked to wavelength- and intensity-specific loss of visual discrimination. This mirrors the defects documented in some Alzheimer’s patients.


Mazes have long been used in Alzheimer’s research. The disease itself seems like an inescapable maze of constantly shifting paths and dead ends that eventually break down the mind and body.

The ViS4M represents a step forward by identifying “early and progressive impairments in color vision and contrast sensitivity in the mice with Alzheimer's,” Koronyo-Hamaoui notes.

Going forward, she adds, the ViS4M could enable vision and cognitive-behavioral scientists to make discoveries in rodent studies that could potentially be translated to improved human visual testing and early diagnosis of Alzheimer's.