The role of habituation in hippocampus-dependent spatial working memory tasks: evidence from GluA1 AMPA receptor subunit knockout mice.
Sanderson DJ., Bannerman DM.
Spatial alternation, win-shift behavior has been claimed to be a test of working memory in rodents that requires active maintenance of relevant, trial-specific information. In this review, we describe work with GluA1 AMPA receptor subunit knockout mice that show impaired spatial alternation, but normal spatial reference memory. Due to their selective impairment on spatial alternation, GluA1 knockout mice provide a means by which the psychological processes underlying alternation can be examined. We now argue that the spatial alternation deficit in GluA1 knockout mice is due to an inability to show stimulus-specific, short-term habituation to recently experienced stimuli. Short-term habituation involves a temporary reduction in attention paid to recently presented stimuli, and is thus a distinct process from those that are involved in working memory in humans. We have recently demonstrated that GluA1 knockout mice show impaired short-term habituation, but, surprisingly, show enhanced long-term spatial habituation. Thus, GluA1 deletion reveals that there is competition between short-term and long-term processes in memory.