Deficits in a Simple Visual Go/No-go Discrimination Task in Two Mouse Models of Huntington's Disease

PLoS Curr. 2013 Nov 7;5:ecurrents.hd.fe74c94bdd446a0470f6f905a30b5dd1. doi: 10.1371/currents.hd.fe74c94bdd446a0470f6f905a30b5dd1.


Huntington's disease (HD), a devastating neurodegenerative disorder caused by a CAG repeat expansion on the HTT gene located on chromosome 4, is associated with a characteristic pattern of progressive cognitive dysfunction known to involve early deficits in executive function. A modified Go/No-go successive discrimination task was designed to assess the type of online response control/executive function known to be disrupted in patients with HD. The present studies show that this simple discrimination assay revealed early and robust deficits in two mouse models of HD, the zQ175 KI mouse (deficits from 28 weeks of age) and the R6/2 mouse, carrying ~240 CAG repeats (deficits from 9 weeks of age). These deficits are not due to gross motor dysfunction in the test animals, but instead appear to measure some inability to inhibit responding in the HD mouse models, suggesting this assay may measure deficits in underlying attentional and/or behavioral inhibition processes. Accordingly, this assay may be well suited to evaluation of simple deficits in cognitive function in mouse HD models, providing a potential platform for preclinical screening.

Grant support

This work was supported by CHDI Foundation. CHDI Foundation, Inc. is a not-for-profit biomedical research organization exclusively dedicated to discovering and developing therapeutics that slow the progression of Huntington’s disease. CHDI Foundation conducts research in a number of different ways; for the purposes of this manuscript, all research was conceptualized, planned, and directed by all authors listed and conducted at PsychoGenics, Inc., a contract research organization.