The ability to learn and remember conspecifics is essential for the establishment and maintenance of social groups. Many animals, including humans, primates and rodents, depend on stable social relationships for survival. Social learning and social recognition have become emerging areas of interest for neuroscientists but are still not well understood. It has been established that several hormones play a role in the modulation of social recognition including estrogen, oxytocin and arginine vasopression. Relatively few studies have investigated how social recognition might be improved or enhanced. In this study, we investigate the role of the NMDA receptor in social recognition memory, specifically the consequences of altering the ratio of the NR2B:NR2A subunits in the forebrain regions in social behavior. We produced transgenic mice in which the NR2B subunit of the NMDA receptor was overexpressed postnatally in the excitatory neurons of the forebrain areas including the cortex, amygdala and hippocampus. We investigated the ability of both our transgenic animals and their wild-type littermate to learn and remember juvenile conspecifics using both 1-hr and 24-hr memory tests. Our experiments show that the wild-type animals and NR2B transgenic mice preformed similarly in the 1-hr test. However, transgenic mice showed better performances in 24-hr tests of recognizing animals of a different strain or animals of a different species. We conclude that NR2B overexpression in the forebrain enhances social recognition memory for different strains and animal species.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)