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Spaced training improves learning in Ts65Dn and Ube3a mouse models of intellectual disabilities.


Benefits of distributed learning strategies have been extensively described in the human literature, but minimally investigated in intellectual disability syndromes. We tested the hypothesis that training trials spaced apart in time could improve learning in two distinct genetic mouse models of neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by intellectual impairments. As compared to training with massed trials, spaced training significantly improved learning in both the Ts65Dn trisomy mouse model of Down syndrome and the maternally inherited Ube3a mutant mouse model of Angelman syndrome. Spacing the training trials at 1 h intervals accelerated acquisition of three cognitive tasks by Ts65Dn mice: (1) object location memory, (2) novel object recognition, (3) water maze spatial learning. Further, (4) spaced training improved water maze spatial learning by Ube3a mice. In contrast, (5) cerebellar-mediated rotarod motor learning was not improved by spaced training. Corroborations in three assays, conducted in two model systems, replicated within and across two laboratories, confirm the strength of the findings. Our results indicate strong translational relevance of a behavioral intervention strategy for improving the standard of care in treating the learning difficulties that are characteristic and clinically intractable features of many neurodevelopmental disorders.

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