Selective enhancement of emotional, but not motor, learning in monoamine oxidase A-deficient mice Academic Article uri icon


  • Mice deficient in monoamine oxidase A (MAOA), an enzyme that metabolizes monoamines such as norepinephrine and serotonin, have elevated norepinephrine and serotonin levels in the frontal cortex, hippocampus, and cerebellum, compared with normal wild-type mice. Since monoamines in these areas are critically involved in a variety of behaviors, we examined learning and memory (using emotional and motor tasks) in MAOA mutant mice. The MAOA-deficient mice exhibited significantly enhanced classical fear conditioning (freezing to both tone and contextual stimuli) and step-down inhibitory avoidance learning. In contrast, eyeblink conditioning was normal in these mutant mice. The female MAOA-deficient mice also displayed normal species-typical maternal behaviors (nesting, nursing, and pup retrieval). These results suggest that chronic elevations of monoamines, due to a deletion of the gene encoding MAOA, lead to selective alterations in emotional behavior.

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Kim, J. J., Shih, J. C., Chen, K., Chen, L. u., Bao, S., Maren, S., ... Thompson, R. F.

citation count

  • 123

publication date

  • May 1997