Could memory performance and spatial learning be genetically based?

February 4, 2004 BETHESDA, MD As the US population ages, there is an increasing effort to understand the underlying mechanisms that contribute to learning and memory. This effort could be of critical importance to scientists trying to decipher how the molecular genetic mechanisms of learning and memory are disrupted or impaired. The results of a new study provide evidence that individual differences in some cognitive functions may have a genetic basis.

A New Study

The authors of the study are Nelson Ruiz-Opazo, of the Section of Molecular Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, and John Tonkiss, from the Center for Behavioral Development and Mental Retardation, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA. Their study, entitled "X-Linked Loci Influence Spatial Navigation Performance in Dahl Rats," now appears in the Articles in Press section of Physiological Genomics, one of one of 14 scientific journals published monthly by the American Physiological Society (APS) (www.the-aps.org).


Dahl S/hsd (n=12) and Dahl R/hsd (n=12) male rats were obtained. Reciprocal mating of the parental strains (Dahl R female x Dahl S male and Dahl S female x Dahl R male) produced two types of F1 male hybrids: F1[RXS] (n=12) and F1[SXR] (n=11), respectively. A cohort was derived from brother-to-sister mating of F1 (R female x S male) hybrids to produce and F2 male segregation population (n=178). Behavioral testing was performed on parental, F1 and F2 cohorts at 12 weeks of age.

The Morris water maze (MWM) task was performed using a circular water maze and a computer tracking system. A circular platform was placed at the center of one of four imaginary quadrants and the water rendered opaque. Swim distance was used to evaluate performance.

  • In the hidden platform version of the maze task the platform was submerged below the water's surface and

  • Contact: Donna Krupa
    American Physiological Society

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