Learning performance varies with brain weight in heterogeneous mouse lines

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Three lines of unselected heterogeneous stocks of mice--Fuller HET, Roderick SEL 19B, and Roderick SEL 16C--were tested for learning and activity in active avoidance acquisition and extinction, water-maze discrimination learning and reversal learning, operant discrimination, and passive avoidance acquisition tasks. Ambulation in the open field was also measured. Small to moderate correlations between brain weight and learning measures were obtained for all tasks except passive avoidance. A moderate correlation between brain weight and activity was found only in the open field (r = .39). Partialing out differences in operant level and body weight had little effect on the magnitude of the correlations between brain weight and learning performance. When ambulation in the open field was partialed out, however, all correlations between brain weight and learning performance decreased. Previous research, as summarized in T. H. Roderick et al (1976), suggested a positive relation between brain weight and learning scores across mammalian orders and species. The present results extend this relation to within-species variation in brain size and emphasize the limitations of estimating genetic associations between brain and behavior from comparisons between small numbers of inbred strains or selected lines. (24 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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