Abstract

BXSB mice have an −40–60% incidence of neocortical ectopias in layer I of the prefrontal/motor cortex. Prior studies have found major behavioral differences between those with ectopias and their non-ectopic littermates. Some of these findings indicate that the two groups differ with respect to spatial reference and working memory. The purpose of this study was to measure reference and working memory in the same animals to test the hypothesis that the ectopics would have better reference memory but less effective working memory. The Lashley III maze has cul-de-sacs which must be eliminated, and T-choices where the animal has to decide whether to go left or right. Ectopic and non-ectopic mice were equally able to learn the maze and did not differ on cul-entry or T-choice errors. Then the maze was inverted and the animals were retested. Turning the maze upside down did not change the relative status of the blind alleys. Therefore, the reference memory knowledge from the prior week's training could be used to avoid entering the culs. However, inverting the maze caused a left-right mirror image reversal of the T-choices. Therefore, prior reference memory information would interfere with learning the new path through the maze, whereas working memory would enable the mouse to eliminate T-choice errors. Ectopic mice made less cul-entry errors and more T-choice errors than their non-ectopic littermates, as predicted.