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Genes Brain Behav. 2006 Jul;5(5):389-403.

Visual detection, pattern discrimination and visual acuity in 14 strains of mice.

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Department of Psychology and Neuroscience Institute, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada.


Based on the procedure of Prusky et al. (2000, Vision Research, 40, 2201-2209), we used a computer-based, two-alternative swim task to evaluate visual detection, pattern discrimination and visual acuity in 14 strains of mice from priority groups A and B of the JAX phenome project (129S1/SvImJ, A/J, AKR/J, BALB/cByJ, BALB/cJ, C3H/HeJ, C57BL/6J, CAST/Ei, DBA/2J, FVB/NJ, MOLF/Ei, SJL/J, SM/J and SPRET/Ei). Each mouse was tested for eight trials/day for 8 days on each of the three tests. There was a significant strain difference in visual ability in all three tests. Mice with reported normal vision (129S1/SvImJ, C57BL/6J and DBA/2J) and one albino strain (AKR/J) performed very well in these tasks. The other albino strains (A/J, BALB/cByJ and BALB/cJ) took longer to learn the tasks than mice with normal vision and did not reach the criterion of 70% correct. Mice with retinal degeneration (C3H/HeJ, FVB/NJ, MOLF/Ei and SJL/J) performed only at chance levels as did the three strains with unknown visual abilities (CAST/Ei, SM/J and SPRET/Ei). Because many behavioral tasks for rodents rely on visual cues, we suggest that the visual abilities of mice should be evaluated before they are tested in commonly used visuo-spatial learning and memory tasks.

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