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Eur J Neurosci. 2006 Jun;23(11):3056-62.

Testosterone and photoperiod interact to affect spatial learning and memory in adult male white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus).

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1
Department of Neuroscience, and Institute of Behavioural Medicine Research, Ohio State University, Columbus, 43210, USA.

Abstract

Gonadal hormones affect spatial learning and memory in mammals and circulating gonadal hormone concentrations fluctuate by season. Most nontropical rodents are spring/summer breeders and males display higher testosterone concentrations during the breeding season compared with the nonbreeding season (fall/winter). Seasonal patterns of testosterone concentration (as well as many other seasonal modifications of physiology, morphology, and behaviour) are induced by manipulation of photoperiod (day length; i.e. short or long days) in the laboratory. Coincident with reducing testosterone concentration, short days also impair spatial learning and memory performance in male white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) compared with long days. We hypothesized that short-day-induced reduction of testosterone concentrations inhibits spatial learning and memory performance compared with long days. Adult male white-footed mice were maintained in long (16 h light/day) or short (8 h light/day) days for 14 weeks following sham-castration, castration plus saline implant, or castration plus testosterone implant treatment. Spatial learning and memory was assessed using a water maze, and photoperiod-evoked changes in gene expression of sex steroid receptors within the hippocampus were also examined. Castrated, short-day mice with testosterone replacement displayed enhanced water maze performance compared with other short-day mice, but no differences among testosterone treatments were observed in long-day mice. Photoperiod did not affect hippocampal androgen, oestrogen alpha, or oestrogen beta receptor gene expression. These results suggest that photoperiod modulates the effects of testosterone on spatial learning performance by mechanisms indirect of the hippocampus.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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