Reversal learning and attentional set-shifting in mice

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Schizophrenia is a complex developmental disorder that presents challenges to modern neuroscience in terms of discovering etiology and aiding in effective treatment of afflicted humans. One approach is to divide the constellation of symptoms of human neuropsychiatric disorders into discrete units for study. Multiple animal models are used to study brain ontogeny, response to psychoactive compounds, substrates of defined behaviors. Frontal cortical areas have been found to have abnormal anatomy and neurotransmitter levels in postmortem brains from schizophrenic patients. The mouse model has the advantage of rather straightforward genetic manipulation and offers numerous genetic variations within the same species. However, until recently, the behavioral analyses in the mice lagged behind the primate and rat, especially with respect to testing of frontal cortical regions. Current reports of mouse prefrontal anatomy and function advocate the mouse as a feasible animal model to study prefrontal cortical function. This review highlights the most recent developments from behavioral paradigms for testing orbital and medial prefrontal cortical function in pharmacological and genetic models of human schizophrenia.

This article is part of a special issue entitled ‘Schizophrenia’.


▸ Mice have anatomically and behaviorally dissociable frontal cortical regions. ▸ Mouse orbital frontal cortex mediates reversal learning. ▸ Mouse medial prefrontal cortex modulates attentional set-shifting. ▸ Mice provide an additional animal model for research in schizophrenia.

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