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Behav Brain Res. 2012 Sep 1;234(1):33-7. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2012.05.048. Epub 2012 Jun 5.

Intact and impaired executive abilities in the BTBR mouse model of autism.

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Department of Psychology, The George Washington University, 2125G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20052, United States.


BTBR T+tf/J (BTBR) inbred mice are frequently used as a model of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) as they display social deficits and repetitive behaviors that resemble the symptoms of the human syndrome. Since deficits on tasks that measure cognitive (executive) control are also reliable phenotypes in ASD, we wanted to determine whether executive abilities were compromised in the mouse model. BTBR mice were trained on two visual discrimination paradigms requiring differing degrees of cognitive control. BTBR mice performed normally on a visual discrimination reversal where rule switching was relatively automatic, but were severely impaired on a task-switch paradigm that required the active use of contextual information to switch between rules in a flexible manner. The present findings further characterize the behavior of BTBR mice as a model of ASD. Moreover, the demonstration of both intact and impaired executive functions in BTBR mice illustrates the importance of developing new cognitive assays for comprehensive behavioral assessment of mouse models of human brain disorders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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