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Behav Neurosci. 2012 Jun;126(3):488-92. doi: 10.1037/a0028155.

Enhanced appetitive learning and reversal learning in a mouse model for Prader-Willi syndrome.

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Behavioural Genetics Group, School of Psychology, Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK.


Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) is caused by lack of paternally derived gene expression from the imprinted gene cluster on human chromosome 15q11-q13. PWS is characterized by severe hypotonia, a failure to thrive in infancy and, on emerging from infancy, evidence of learning disabilities and overeating behavior due to an abnormal satiety response and increased motivation by food. We have previously shown that an imprinting center deletion mouse model (PWS-IC) is quicker to acquire a preference for, and consume more of a palatable food. Here we examined how the use of this palatable food as a reinforcer influences learning in PWS-IC mice performing a simple appetitive learning task. On a nonspatial maze-based task, PWS-IC mice acquired criteria much quicker, making fewer errors during initial acquisition and also reversal learning. A manipulation where the reinforcer was devalued impaired wild-type performance but had no effect on PWS-IC mice. This suggests that increased motivation for the reinforcer in PWS-IC mice may underlie their enhanced learning. This supports previous findings in PWS patients and is the first behavioral study of an animal model of PWS in which the motivation of behavior by food rewards has been examined.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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