Photoperiod interacts with food restriction in performance in the Barnes maze in female California mice

Michael Q. Steinman, Katie K. Crean, Brian C. Trainor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Food restriction has been reported to have positive effects on cognition. This study examines how another environmental factor, daylength, can alter the impact of food restriction on the brain and behavior. Female California mice (Peromyscus californicus), housed on either long days (16 h of light and 8 h of darkness) or short days (8 h of light and 16 h of darkness), were restricted to 80% of their normal baseline food intake or provided with food ad libitum. Testing in a Barnes maze revealed that the effects of food restriction depended on photoperiod, and that these effects differed for acquisition vs. reversal learning. During acquisition testing, food restriction increased latency to finding the target hole in short-day mice but not in long-day mice. In reversal testing, food restriction decreased latency to finding the target hole in long-day mice but not in short-day mice. Latency to finding the hole was positively and independently correlated with both errors and time spent freezing, suggesting that changes in both spatial learning and anxiety-like behavior contributed to performance. Short days increased hippocampal expression of the synaptic protein, synapsin I, which was reversed by food restriction. Short days also reduced plasma corticosterone levels, but diet had no effect. There was no effect of diet or photoperiod on hippocampal expression of the glial marker, glial fibrillary acidic protein. The present findings suggest that, in female California mice, the differential effects of food restriction on acquisition and reversal learning are photoperiod-dependent. These results justify further testing of the relationship between food restriction and hippocampal synapsin I in the context of spatial learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-370
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2011


  • Food deprivation
  • Hippocampus
  • Learning and memory
  • Photoperiodism
  • Spatial cognition
  • Synapsin I

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Photoperiod interacts with food restriction in performance in the Barnes maze in female California mice'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this