Effects of aging on the motor, cognitive and affective behaviors, neuroimmune responses and hippocampal gene expression

Gaurav Singhal, Julie Morgan, Magdalene C. Jawahar, Frances Corrigan, Emily J. Jaehne, Catherine Toben, James Breen, Stephen M. Pederson, Jim Manavis, Anthony J. Hannan, Bernhard T. Baune

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The known effects of aging on the brain and behavior include impaired cognition, increases in anxiety and depressive-like behaviors, and reduced locomotor activity. Environmental exposures and interventions also influence brain functions during aging. We investigated the effects of normal aging under controlled environmental conditions and in the absence of external interventions on locomotor activity, cognition, anxiety and depressive-like behaviors, immune function and hippocampal gene expression in C57BL/6 mice. Healthy mice at 4, 9, and 14 months of age underwent behavioral testing using an established behavioral battery, followed by cellular and molecular analysis using flow cytometry, immunohistochemistry, and quantitative PCR. We found that 14-month-old mice showed significantly reduced baseline locomotion, increased anxiety, and impaired spatial memory compared to younger counterparts. However, no significant differences were observed for depressive-like behavior in the forced-swim test. Microglia numbers in the dentate gyrus, as well as CD8+ memory T cells increased towards late middle age. Aging processes exerted a significant effect on the expression of 43 genes of interest in the hippocampus. We conclude that aging is associated with specific changes in locomotor activity, cognition, anxiety-like behaviors, neuroimmune responses and hippocampal gene expression.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112501
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 6 Apr 2020


  • Aging
  • Anxiety
  • Behavior
  • Brain
  • Cognition
  • Depression
  • Gene
  • Immune
  • Locomotor activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience

Cite this