Evidence for social anxiety and impaired social cognition in a mouse model of fragile X syndrome

Behav Neurosci. 2008 Apr;122(2):293-300. doi: 10.1037/0735-7044.122.2.293.


This study assessed social behavior in a mouse model of Fragile X syndrome (FXS), the Fmr1 (tm1Cgr) or Fmr1 "knockout" (KO) mouse. Both the KO and wild-type (WT) mice preferred to be near a novel conspecific than to be alone. However, during the initial interaction with a novel conspecific, (1) a greater proportion of the KO mice exhibited high levels of grooming; and (2) the average duration of nose contact with the stimulus mouse was significantly shorter for the KO mice, both indicative of increased arousal and/or anxiety. Both groups exhibited a robust novelty preference when the novel animal was a "preferred" mouse. However, when the novel mouse was a "nonpreferred" animal, both groups showed a diminished novelty preference but this effect was more pronounced for the WT mice. This blunted negative reaction of the KO mice to a nonpreferred animal may indicate that they were less proficient than controls in distinguishing between positive and negative social interactions. These findings provide support for the use of this animal model to study the autistic features of FXS and autism spectrum disorders.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anxiety / genetics
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Exploratory Behavior / physiology*
  • Female
  • Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein / genetics
  • Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein / physiology
  • Fragile X Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Fragile X Syndrome / psychology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*
  • Social Behavior*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric


  • Fmr1 protein, mouse
  • Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein