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Inbred strains of mice are known to differ in their performance in the Morris water maze task, a test of spatial discrimination and place navigation in rodents, but the genetic basis of individual variation in spatial learning is unknown. We have mapped genetic effects that contribute to the difference between two strains, DBA/2 and C57BL6/J, using an F2 intercross and methods to detect quantitative trait loci (QTL). We found two QTL, one on chromosome 4 and one on chromosome 12, that influence behavior in the probe trial of the water maze (genome-wide significance p = 0.017 and 0.015, respectively). By including tests of avoidance conditioning and behavior in a novel environment, we show that the QTL on chromosomes 4 and 12 specifically influence variation in spatial learning. QTL that influence differences in fearful behavior (on chromosomes 1, 3, 7, 15, and 19) operate while mice are trained in the water maze apparatus.


Journal article


J Neurosci

Publication Date





2426 - 2433


Animals, Avoidance Learning, Behavior, Animal, Chromosome Mapping, Chromosomes, Mammalian, Conditioning (Psychology), Crosses, Genetic, Electroshock, Fear, Genetic Variation, Lod Score, Male, Maze Learning, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Mice, Inbred DBA, Multivariate Analysis, Quantitative Trait Loci, Reaction Time, Spatial Behavior, Species Specificity