Prepulse inhibition predicts working memory performance whilst startle habituation predicts spatial reference memory retention in C57BL/6 mice

Philipp Singer, Jonas Hauser, Luis LLano Lopez, Daria Peleg-Raibstein, Joram Feldon, Pascual A. Gargiulo, Kay Yan Benjamin Yee

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Prepulse inhibition (PPI) of the acoustic startle reflex refers to the attenuation of the startle response to an intense pulse stimulus when it is shortly preceded by a weak non-startling prepulse stimulus. It is a well-established high-throughput translational measure of pre-attentive sensory gating, and its impairment is detected in several neuropsychiatric diseases including schizophrenia. It has been hypothesized that PPI might be associated with, or predictive of, cognitive deficiency in such diseases, and therefore provide an efficient assay for screening drugs with potential pro-cognitive efficacy. Free from any predetermined disease model, the present study evaluated in a homogeneous cohort of inbred C57BL/6 mice the presence of a statistical link between PPI expression and cognitive performance. Performance indices in a spatial reference memory test and a working memory test conducted in the Morris water maze, and contextual fear conditioning were correlated against pre-existing baseline PPI expression. A specific correlative link between working memory and PPI induced by weak (but not strong) prepulse was revealed. In addition, a correlation between habituation of the startle reflex and reference memory was identified for the first time: a stronger overt habituation effect was associated with superior spatial search accuracy. The PPI paradigm thus provides two independent predictors of dissociable cognitive traits in normal C57BL/6 mice; and they might serve as potential markers for high-throughput evaluation of potential cognitive enhancers, especially in the context of schizophrenia where deficits in startle habituation and PPI co-exist.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-177
Number of pages12
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognition
  • Correlation
  • Individual difference
  • Learning
  • Prepulse inhibition
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sensorimotor gating

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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