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Brain Res. 1994 Jan 28;635(1-2):18-26.

Sexually dimorphic spatial learning varies seasonally in two populations of deer mice.

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Social Science Centre, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada.


Spatial learning in photoperiodically induced breeding (reproductive) and non-breeding (non-reproductive) adult male and female deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) was examined in a Morris water-maze task. Sexually mature, adult male and female deer mice that were derived from either a mainland population (P. m. artemisiae) or an island population (P. m. angustus) were required to learn the spatial position of a hidden, submerged platform in a water maze. Deer mice were tested either during the breeding season (summer; long day photoperiod) or during the non-breeding season (winter; short day photoperiod) with a total of six blocks of four trials conducted in a single day. Retention was tested with two probe trials which occurred one and three days after acquisition. During the breeding season male spatial task acquisition was superior to female spatial task acquisition for both populations. In contrast, during the non-breeding season there were no significant sex differences in spatial acquisition for either population. This change in sexually dimorphic spatial learning was due to female spatial-performance decreasing from non-breeding season to the breeding season and male spatial-performance increasing over the same period. Both populations displayed similar seasonal variations in sexually dimorphic water-maze task performance. There were, however, overall population differences in water-maze task performance that were related to the ecology of the mice, with the insular mice displaying shorter latencies to reach the hidden platform than did the mainland deer mice.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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