Behavioural characterisation of transgenic mice has been instrumental in search of therapeutic targets for the modulation of cognitive function. However, little effort has been devoted to phenotypic characterisation across environmental conditions and genomic differences such as sex and strain, which is essential to translational research. The present study is an effort in this direction. It scrutinised the stability and robustness of the phenotype of enhanced Pavlovian conditioning reported in mice with forebrain neuronal deletion of glycine transporter 1 by evaluating the possible presence of sex and circadian dependency, and its consistency across aversive and appetitive conditioning paradigms. The Pavlovian phenotype was essentially unaffected by the time of testing between the two circadian phases, but it was modified by sex in both conditioning paradigms. We observed that the effect size of the phenotype was strongest in female mice tested during the dark phase in the aversive paradigm. Critically, the presence of the phenotype in female mutants was accompanied by an increase in resistance to extinction. Similarly, enhanced conditioned responding once again emerged solely in female mutants in the appetitive conditioning experiment, which was again associated with an increased resistance to extinction across days, but male mutants exhibited an opposite trend towards facilitation of extinction. The present study has thus added hitherto unknown qualifications and specifications of a previously reported memory enhancing phenotype in this mouse line by identifying the determinants of the magnitude and direction of the expressed phenotype. This in-depth comparative approach is of value to the interpretation of behavioural findings in general.
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