Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a common cause of cognitive dysfunction and a major risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD). PDAPP mice, a transgenic line overexpressing a mutant human amyloid precursor protein (APP) implicated in familial AD, have markedly impaired behavioral performance in the Morris water maze relative to wild-type (WT) littermates. Performance further deteriorates following experimental TBI in both PDAPP and WT mice. However, the aspects of cognitive function involved are not well understood. Here, we have analyzed search strategies used in the water maze by 3-4 month old PDAPP and WT C57Bl6 littermates both before and after moderate controlled cortical impact TBI. Prior to TBI, PDAPP mice used less spatial strategies and more nonspatial systematic strategies and strategies involving repetitive looping than WT mice. With training, PDAPP mice used more spatial strategies and less repetitive looping. After TBI, PDAPP mice lost use of spatial strategies and relied more on repetitive looping. TBI in WT mice also reduced their use of spatial strategies but instead caused a switch to nonspatial systematic strategies. We also analyzed changes in the efficiency with which mice used each individual strategy, but found that differences in which strategies were used quantitatively accounted for most of the differences in performance between groups. These results demonstrate that suboptimal search strategy use in addition to effects on spatial learning and memory underlies the impaired performance of PDAPP mice and further deterioration following TBI. Human TBI patients may have analogous poor use of problem solving strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)330-340
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental Neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2006


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Amyloid precursor protein
  • Behavior
  • Morris water maze
  • PDAPP mice
  • Search strategy
  • Traumatic brain injury


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