Rigidity in social and emotional memory in the R6/2 mouse model of Huntington's disease

Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2008 May;89(4):533-44. doi: 10.1016/j.nlm.2007.10.009. Epub 2008 Feb 20.


Four experiments were conducted to examine social and emotional memory in the R6/2 transgenic mouse model of Huntington's disease. First, R6/2 mice were tested in a social transmission of food preference task where they had to acquire a preference for a flavoured food (acquisition) and subsequently to learn a preference for a different flavour (shifted reinforcement). R6/2 mice performed well in the acquisition trial. However, they were impaired in the shifted reinforcement trial and perseverated on the first preference learned. Second, mice were trained in an inhibitory avoidance paradigm, with either one or two footshocks delivered during the training. WT mice given one footshock showed retention levels lower than those of mice trained with two footshocks. By contrast, there was no difference in retention levels of R6/2 mice given either one or two footshocks. Third, mice were tested in an active avoidance task that paired a mild footshock with a warning light. R6/2 mice had a strong age-dependent deficit in this task. Finally, mice were tested in a conditioned taste aversion task that paired a saccharine solution with a nausea-inducing agent (LiCl). R6/2 mice displayed normal aversion, however this was not extinguished following repeated exposure to saccharine solution alone. Our data show that while R6/2 mice have functional hippocampus-based memory, they have deficits in striatum-based memory skills. Further, social and emotional memories appear to be encoded in a rigid way that is not influenced by subsequent learning or by arousal levels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / physiology
  • Animals
  • Avoidance Learning / physiology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Extinction, Psychological / physiology
  • Female
  • Food Preferences / physiology
  • Huntington Disease / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred CBA
  • Mice, Neurologic Mutants
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology
  • Social Behavior*
  • Taste