Spatial learning in the 5-HT1B receptor knockout mouse: selective facilitation/impairment depending on the cognitive demand

Learn Mem. 2003 Nov-Dec;10(6):466-77. doi: 10.1101/lm.60203.


Age-related memory decline is associated with a combined dysfunction of the cholinergic and serotonergic systems in the hippocampus and frontal cortex, in particular. The 5-HT1B receptor occupies strategic cellular and subcellular locations in these structures, where it plays a role in the modulation of ACh release. In an attempt to characterize the contribution of this receptor to memory functions, 5-HT1B receptor knockout (KO) mice were submitted to various behavioral paradigms carried out in the same experimental context (water maze), which were aimed at exposing mice to various levels of memory demand. 5-HT1BKO mice exhibited a facilitation in the acquisition of a hippocampal-dependent spatial reference memory task in the Morris water maze. This facilitation was selective of task difficulty, showing thus that the genetic inactivation of the 5-HT1B receptor is associated with facilitation when the complexity of the task is increased, and reveals a protective effect on age-related hippocampal-dependent memory decline. Young-adult and aged KO and wild-type (WT) mice were equally able to learn a delayed spatial matching-to-sample working memory task in a radial-arm water maze with short (0 or 5 min) delays. However, 5-HT1BKO mice, only, exhibited a selective memory impairment at intermediate and long (15, 30, and 60 min) delays. Treatment by scopolamine induced the same pattern of performance in wild type as did the mutation for short (5 min, no impairment) and long (60 min, impairment) delays. Taken together, these studies revealed a beneficial effect of the mutation on the acquisition of a spatial reference memory task, but a deleterious effect on a working memory task for long delays. This 5-HT1BKO mouse story highlights the problem of the potential existence of "global memory enhancers."

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Maze Learning / physiology
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Receptor, Serotonin, 5-HT1B / genetics
  • Receptor, Serotonin, 5-HT1B / physiology*
  • Serotonin / physiology
  • Space Perception / physiology*


  • Receptor, Serotonin, 5-HT1B
  • Serotonin