Overexpression of the NR2A subunit in the forebrain impairs long-term social recognition and non-social olfactory memory

S. A. Jacobs, J. Z. Tsien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Animals must recognize and remember conspecifics and potential mates, and distinguish these animals from potential heterospecific competitors and predators. Despite its necessity, aged animals are known to exhibit impaired social recognition memory. As the brain ages, the ratio of NR2A:NR2B in the brain increases over time and has been postulated to underlie the cognitive decline observed during the aging process. Here, we test the hypothesis that an increased NR2A:NR2B subunit ratio underlies long-term social recognition memory. Using transgenic overexpression of NR2A in the forebrain regions, we investigated the ability of these mice to learn and remember male and female conspecifics, mice of another strain and animals of another rodent species, the rat. Furthermore, due to the importance of olfaction in social recognition, we tested the olfactory memory in the NR2A transgenic mice. Our series of behavioral experiments revealed significant impairments in the NR2A transgenic mice in long-term social memory of both male and female conspecifics. Additionally, the NR2A transgenic mice are unable to recognize mice of another strain or rats. The NR2A transgenic mice also exhibited long-term memory impairments in the olfactory recognition task. Taken together, our results provide evidence that an increased NR2A:NR2B ratio in the forebrain leads to reduced long-term memory function, including the ethologically important memories such as social recognition and olfactory memory. Summary of olfactory and social recognition memory results. The NR2A transgenic mice were impaired in long-term social recognition, the recognition of a familiar mouse of another strain and the animals of another species. Similarly, the NR2A transgenic mice were also impaired in long-term olfactory memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)376-384
Number of pages9
JournalGenes, Brain and Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Long-term memory
  • NMDA
  • NR2A
  • NR2B
  • Social recognition memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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