Honors Program

Spring Showcase Presenters

Crysta Terry

Title: “Search Strategy of Tilted Mice on a Barnes Maze"

Major: Psychology        Minor: Biology

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Ryan Yoder (Psychology)

Honors Program Liaison: Dr. Ann Livschiz (History)


Crysta Terry is majoring in Psychology with a minor in Biology, and will be graduating in August. During college she has been an officer for the Honors Student Group, and is currently an officer for the Psychology honors society, Psi Chi. Crysta is a Chancellor’s scholar, and last school year was awarded the Honors Research Assistantship Scholarship for her work with Dr. Ryan Yoder on spatial learning as well as the Honors Teaching Assistantship for PSY 329, Psychobiology, with Dr. Yoder. She has been a research assistant in Dr. Yoder and Dr. Lawton’s labs for the past two academic years. Crysta has presented research for Dr. Yoder and Dr. Lawton’s lab at IPFW, Chicago, and New York, and will be presenting for Dr. Lawton and Dr. Yoder again next month at MPA in Chicago. Last year her research team was awarded second place at the undergraduate level at IPFW’s Research Symposium for their research with Dr. Lawton on Video Game Experience and Perception of Self-Motion. She currently works as a Mental Health Assistant in the ER at Parkview Randallia. After graduation, Crysta will be applying for a behavioral neuroscience doctoral program.


The vestibular system is believed to be one source of internal stimuli that is important for spatial orientation and navigation. One method of testing the vestibular contribution to spatial memory involves the use of genetically-modified mice. A recent study tested spatial performance on radial arm and Barnes mazes in otoconia-deficient mice (Yoder and Kirby, 2014). On the Barnes maze task, control and tilted mice performed similarly and initially used a serial search strategy most often; rather than a spatial search strategy. However, towards the last day of acquisition training, control mice trended towards favoring a spatial search strategy while tilted mice did not show this trend. The present study tested whether tilted mice are capable of using a spatial search strategy on the Barnes maze by increasing the number of acquisition days for training. Control and tilted mice showed similar latency, distance, and errors during acquisition training. On the subsequent probe trial, both groups spent the greatest percentage of time in the goal quadrant. By the eighth day of acquisition training, control mice favored a spatial search strategy significantly more than the tilted mice, while tilted mice favored a serial search strategy. These results suggest signals originating in the otolith organs contribute to spatial memory, but are not necessary for all aspects of spatial performance.