DBA/2 mice have altered hippocampal structure and perform poorly in several hippocampus-dependent contextual/spatial learning tasks. The performance of this strain in higher cognitive tasks is less studied. Transitive inference is a hippocampus-dependent task that requires an abstraction to be made from prior rules to form a new decision matrix; performance of DBA/2 mice in this task is unknown, whereas contextual fear conditioning is a hippocampus-dependent task in which DBA/2 mice have deficits. The present study compared DBA/2J and C57BL/6J inbred mice in two different contextual fear conditioning paradigms and transitive inference to test whether similar deficits are seen across these hippocampus-dependent tasks. For background fear conditioning, mice were trained with two paired presentations of an auditory conditioned stimulus (CS, 30 seconds, 85 dB white noise) paired with an unconditioned stimulus (US, 2 seconds, 0.57 mA footshock), the context was a continuous background CS. Mice were tested for contextual learning 24 hours later. Foreground fear conditioning differed in that no auditory CS was presented. For transitive inference, separate mice were trained to acquire a series of overlapping odor discrimination problems and tested with novel odor pairings that either did or did not require the use of transitive inference. DBA/2 mice performed significantly worse than the C57BL/6 in both foreground and background fear conditioning and transitive inference. These results demonstrate that the DBA/2 mice have deficits in higher-cognitive processes and suggest that similar substrates may underlie deficits in contextual learning and transitive inference.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Behavioral Neuroscience