Performance deficit of alpha7 nicotinic receptor knockout mice in a delayed matching-to-place task suggests a mild impairment of working/episodic-like memory

Genes Brain Behav. 2006 Aug;5(6):433-40. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-183X.2005.00176.x.


Patients with schizophrenia exhibit deficits in a range of cognitive functions, particularly working and episodic memory, which are thought to be core features of the disorder. Memory dysfunction in schizophrenia is familial and thus a promising endophenotype for genetic studies. Both human and animal studies suggest a role for the neural nicotinic acid receptor family in cognition and specifically the alpha7-receptor subunit in schizophrenia and its endophenotypes. Consequently, we tested mice lacking the alpha7 subunit of the neural nicotinic receptor (B6.129S7-Chrna7(tm1Bay)/J) in the delayed matching-to-place (DMP) task of the Morris water maze, a measure of working/episodic memory akin to human episodic memory. We report that a minor impairment in alpha7 knockout mice was observed in the DMP task, with knockout mice taking longer to find the hidden platform than their wildtype controls. This suggests a role for the alpha7 subunit in working/episodic memory and a potential role for the alpha7 neural nicotinic receptor gene (CHRNA7) in schizophrenia and its endophenotypes.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Learning Disabilities / genetics
  • Learning Disabilities / metabolism*
  • Learning Disabilities / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / physiology
  • Memory Disorders / genetics
  • Memory Disorders / metabolism*
  • Memory Disorders / physiopathology
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / genetics*
  • Schizophrenia / genetics
  • Schizophrenia / metabolism
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology
  • Schizophrenic Psychology
  • Synaptic Transmission / genetics
  • alpha7 Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor


  • Chrna7 protein, human
  • Chrna7 protein, mouse
  • Receptors, Nicotinic
  • alpha7 Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor
  • Acetylcholine