Left-right (L-R) asymmetry is a fundamental feature of brain function, but the mechanisms underlying functional asymmetry remain largely unknown. We previously identified structural and functional asymmetries in the circuitry of the mouse hippocampus that result from the asymmetrical distribution of NMDA receptor GluR ε2 (NR2B) subunits. By examining the synaptic distribution of ε2 subunits, we found that β2-microglobulin (β2m)-deficient mice that are defective in the stable cell surface expression of major histocompatibility complex class I (MHCI) lack this circuit asymmetry. To investigate the effect of hippocampal asymmetry defect on brain function, we examined working memory of β2m-deficient mice in a delayed nonmatching-to-position (DNMTP) task. Mice were trained to nosepoke either a left or right key of a sample, to retain the position of the key during a delay interval, and then to choose the key opposite from the sample. During training sessions in which no programmed delay interval was imposed, the β2m-deficient mice acquired the task as fast as control mice, suggesting that the discrimination of left and right positions is not impaired by the total loss of hippocampal asymmetry. In contrast, the β2m-deficient mice made fewer correct responses than control mice when variable delay was imposed, suggesting that the asymmetry of hippocampal circuitry plays an important role in working memory.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Behavioral Neuroscience