Intact female mice acquire trace eyeblink conditioning faster than male and ovariectomized female mice

Amy P. Rapp*, Craig Weiss, M. Matthew Oh, John F. Disterhoft

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Female subjects have been widely excluded from past neuroscience work because of a number of biases, including the notion that cycling sex hormones increase variability. However, it is necessary to conduct behavioral research in mice that includes both sexes as mice are typically used for developing and evaluating future therapeutics. Understanding sex differences in learning is fundamental for the development of targeted therapies for numerous neurologic and neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, which is more prevalent in females than males. This study set out to confirm the role of sex and necessity of circulating ovarian hormones in the acquisition of the temporal associative memory task trace eyeblink conditioning (tEBC) in C57BL/6J mice. We present evidence that sex and ovarian hormones are important factors in learning. Specifically, intact female mice learn significantly faster than both male and ovariectomized (ovx) female mice. Data from pseudoconditioned control mice indicate that sex differences are because of differences in learned associations, not sensitization or spontaneous blink rate. This study strengthens the idea that ovarian hormones such as estrogen and progesterone significantly influence learning and memory and that further research is needed to determine the underlying mechanisms behind their effects. Overall, our findings emphasize the necessity of including both sexes in future behavioral studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberENEURO.0199-20.2021
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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