Independent genetic loci for sensorimotor gating and attentional performance in BXD recombinant inbred strains

Genes Brain Behav. 2012 Mar;11(2):147-56. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-183X.2011.00754.x. Epub 2011 Dec 13.

Abstract

A startle reflex in response to an intense acoustic stimulus is inhibited when a barely detectable pulse precedes the startle stimulus by 30-500 ms. It has been theorized that this phenomenon, named prepulse inhibition (PPI) of a startle response, is an automatic early-stage gating process contributing to the ability to focus attention. Deficits in PPI may therefore contribute to deficits in attentional processing. Both deficits are observed in schizophrenia spectrum disorders. Here, we investigated whether there is overlap in genetic control of PPI and attentional processing phenotypes in the panel of BXD recombinant inbred strains of mice. Using an individually titrated prepulse intensity to handle differences in perceived prepulse intensities among strains, we identified a significant quantitative trait locus (QTL) for PPI at the mid-distal end of chromosome 17. A measure of attentional processing in the five-choice serial reaction time task, response variability, mapped to a different locus on proximal-mid chromosome 16. In addition, the estimated genetic and environmental correlations between PPI and several attentional phenotypes were low and not significant. Taken together, the observation of separate genetic loci for PPI and attention and the absence of genetic and environmental correlations indicate that differences in sensorimotor gating do not contribute to differences in attentional performance. Therefore, it is worth pursuing the causative genes residing in both attention and PPI QTL, as these may contribute to separate molecular pathways implicated in neuropsychiatric diseases, such as schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Animals
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Decision Making / physiology
  • Genetic Loci*
  • Genotype
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Quantitative Trait Loci
  • Reaction Time / genetics
  • Reflex / genetics
  • Reflex, Startle / genetics*
  • Sensory Gating / genetics*
  • Species Specificity