Social approach and repetitive behavior in eleven inbred mouse strains

Sheryl S. Moy, Jessica J. Nadler, Nancy B. Young, Randal J. Nonneman, Samantha K. Segall, Gabriela M. Andrade, Jacqueline Crawley, Terry R. Magnuson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

169 Scopus citations


Core symptoms of autism include deficits in social interaction, impaired communication, and restricted, repetitive behaviors. The repetitive behavior domain encompasses abnormal motoric stereotypy, an inflexible insistence on sameness, and resistance to change. In recent years, many genetic mouse models of autism and related disorders have been developed, based on candidate genes for disease susceptibility. The present studies are part of an ongoing initiative to develop appropriate behavioral tasks for the evaluation of mouse models relevant to autism. We have previously reported profiles for sociability, preference for social novelty, and resistance to changes in a learned pattern of behavior, as well as other functional domains, for 10 inbred mouse strains of divergent genetic backgrounds. The present studies extend this multi-component behavioral characterization to several additional strains: C58/J, NOD/LtJ, NZB/B1NJ, PL/J, SJL/J, SWR/J, and the wild-derived PERA/EiJ. C58/J, NOD/LtJ, NZB/B1NJ, SJL/J, and PERA/EiJ demonstrated low sociability, measured by time spent in proximity to an unfamiliar conspecific, with 30-60% of mice from these strains showing social avoidance. In the Morris water maze, NZB/B1NJ had a persistent bias for the quadrant where the hidden platform was located during acquisition, even after 9 days of reversal training. A particularly interesting profile was found for C58/J, which had low social preference, poor performance in the T-maze, and overt motoric stereotypy. Overall, this set of tasks and observational methods provides a strategy for evaluating novel mouse models in behavioral domains relevant to the autism phenotype.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)118-129
Number of pages12
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 5 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Autism
  • Morris water maze
  • Reversal learning
  • Sociability
  • Social preference
  • Spectrum disorders
  • Stereotypy
  • T-maze

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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