Attentional dysfunction, impulsivity, and resistance to change in a mouse model of fragile X syndrome

Behav Neurosci. 2006 Dec;120(6):1367-79. doi: 10.1037/0735-7044.120.6.1367.


On a series of attention tasks, male mice with a mutation targeted to the fragile X mental retardation 1 (Fmrl) gene (Fmrl knockout [KO] mice) committed a higher rate of premature responses than wild-type littermates, with the largest differences seen when task contingencies changed. This finding indicates impaired inhibitory control, particularly during times of stress or arousal. The KO mice also committed a higher rate of inaccurate responses than controls, particularly during the final third of each daily test session, indicating impaired sustained attention. In the selective attention task, the unpredictable presentation of potent olfactory distractors produced a generalized disruption in the performance of the KO mice, whereas for controls, the disruption produced by the distractors was temporally limited. Finally, the attentional disruption seen following an error was more pronounced for the KO mice than for controls, further implicating impaired regulation of arousal and/or negative affect. The present study provides the first evidence that the Fmrl KO mouse is impaired in inhibitory control, attention, and arousal regulation, hallmark areas of dysfunction in fragile X syndrome. The resistance to change also seen in these mice provides a behavioral index for studying the autistic features of this disorder.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / etiology*
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Body Weight / genetics
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Eating / genetics
  • Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein / genetics
  • Fragile X Syndrome / complications*
  • Impulsive Behavior / etiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Videotape Recording / methods


  • Fmr1 protein, mouse
  • Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein