Exploration, anxiety, and spatial memory in transgenic anophthalmic mice

Behav Neurosci. 2001 Apr;115(2):455-67.


Contradictory results are found in the literature concerning the role of vision in the perception of space or in spatial navigation, in part because of the lack of murine models of total blindness used so far. The authors evaluated the spatial abilities of anophthalmic transgenic mice. These mice did not differ qualitatively from their wild-type littermates in general locomotor activity, spontaneous alternation, object exploration, or anxiety, but their level of exploratory activity was generally lower. In the spatial version of the water maze, they displayed persistent thigmotaxic behavior and showed severe spatial learning impairments. However, their performances improved with training, suggesting that they may have acquired a rough representation of the platform position. These results suggest that modalities other than vision enable some degree of spatial processing in proximal and structured spaces but that vision is critical for accurate spatial navigation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anophthalmos / genetics*
  • Anophthalmos / physiopathology
  • Anxiety / genetics*
  • Anxiety / physiopathology
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Escape Reaction / physiology
  • Exploratory Behavior / physiology*
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / physiology
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic / genetics*
  • Orientation / physiology*
  • Proprioception / physiology
  • Species Specificity
  • Visual Perception / physiology