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The effects of hibernation on learning ability and retention were studied in Myotis velifer, a small cave bat. Bats were maze trained using illumination intensity as visual discrimination and food as positive reinforcement. In experiment one, bats placed in a hibernaculum at 7 C for intervals of 4 or 10 days after learning had memory retention similar to control animals maintained at 31 C. In experiment two the effect of placing animals daily in a 7 C hibernaculum for 5-7 hr immediately after learning was studied. Animals hibernating daily showed significant decreases in the rate of learning. Experiment two procedure was followed in experiment three with 2 exceptions. The number of trials given each bat was changed from 10 to 5 per day, and the amount of time in the hibernaculum each day was changed to 7-9 hr. Animals used in experiment three were collected and tested during a different time of the year than animals used in experiments one and two. An increased learning rate occurred in animals experiencing daily hibernation in experiment three. Experiment one data suggest long-term memory is unaffected by hibernation once consolidation has taken place. The results of experiment two indicate an interference in the learning processes for animals hibernating daily. Apparently temperature-dependent processes are involved in consolidation of learned information from short-term to long-term memory. Conflicting data arise from experiment three. In experiment three hibernating bats tended to learn more rapidly than non-hibernating bats. The state of preparation for hibernation changes seasonally in Myotis velifer, and possibly hibernation, by influencing general health, was acting on performance ability rather than short-term memory in either experiment two or three.



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Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Biology Department

First Committee Member (Chair)

Marvin LeRoy Riedesel

Second Committee Member

Joe Scott Altenbach

Third Committee Member

Albert Ratner

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