Carol Barnes' "Barnes Maze" is a dry land escape paradigm used in behavioral laboratory experiments to quantitatively assess spatial learning and memory. Rodents explore a brightly lit slotted disk. On the exposed circular open platform surface there is a small dark recessed chamber located under one of the 18 holes around the perimeter of the platform.
Typically the animal's movement is recorded using a video tracking system.
Subjects are normally rats or mice, which either serve as a control or may have some genetic variable or deficiency present in them which will cause them to react differently to the maze. Visual cues are required to optimize cognitive performance. Pompl and co-workers showed better performance in mice tested with intra- and extra-maze cues than mice trained with no spatial cues present.
The task is non-invasive and humane and is used for evaluating novel chemical entities for their effects on cognition as well as identifying cognitive deficits in transgenic strains of rodents that model for disease such as Alzheimer's disease.
There is an excellent reference at http://www.nature.com/protocolexchange/protocols/349#/equipment