Behavior Genetics

, Volume 35, Issue 5, pp 675–692 | Cite as

Assessing Reliability, Heritability and General Cognitive Ability in a Battery of Cognitive Tasks for Laboratory Mice

  • Michael J. GalsworthyEmail author
  • Jose L. Paya-Cano
  • Lin Liu
  • Santiago Monleón
  • Gregory Gregoryan
  • Cathy Fernandes
  • Leonard C. Schalkwyk
  • Robert Plomin

This report includes the first sibling study of mouse behavior, and presents evidence for a heritable general cognitive ability (g) factor influencing cognitive batteries. Data from a population of male and female outbred mice (n = 84), and a replication study of male sibling pairs (n = 167) are reported. Arenas employed were the T-maze, the Morris water maze, the puzzle box, the Hebb–Williams maze, object exploration, a water plus-maze, and a second food-puzzle arena. The results show a factor structure consistent with the presence of g in mice. Employing one score per arena, this factor accounts for 41% of the variance in the first study (or 36% after sex regression) and 23% in the second, where this factor also showed sibling correlations of 0.17–0.21, which translates into an upper-limit heritability estimate of around 40%. Reliabilities of many tasks are low and consequently set an even lower ceiling for inter-arena or sibling correlations. Nevertheless, the factor structure is seen to remain fairly robust across permutations of the battery composition and the current findings fit well with other recent studies.


Factor analysis g general cognitive ability heritability HS mice individual differences siblings 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael J. Galsworthy
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jose L. Paya-Cano
    • 1
  • Lin Liu
    • 1
  • Santiago Monleón
    • 3
  • Gregory Gregoryan
    • 4
  • Cathy Fernandes
    • 1
  • Leonard C. Schalkwyk
    • 1
  • Robert Plomin
    • 1
  1. 1.Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of PsychiatryKing’s College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Division of Neuroanatomy and Behavior, Institute of AnatomyUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  3. 3.Área de Psicobiología, Facultad de PsicologíaUniversitat de ValenciaSpain
  4. 4.Institute of Higher Nervous Activity and NeurophysiologyRussian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussia

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