Article

Impact of predatory threat on fear extinction in Lewis rats.

Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience, Rutgers State University, Newark, New Jersey 07102, USA.
Learning & memory (Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.) (Impact Factor: 4.38). 09/2010; 17(10):494-501. DOI: 10.1101/lm.1948910
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Humans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are deficient at extinguishing conditioned fear responses. A study of identical twins concluded that this extinction deficit does not predate trauma but develops as a result of trauma. The present study tested whether the Lewis rat model of PTSD reproduces these features of the human syndrome. Lewis rats were subjected to classical auditory fear conditioning before or after exposure to a predatory threat that mimics a type of traumatic stress that leads to PTSD in humans. Exploratory behavior on the elevated plus maze 1 wk after predatory threat exposure was used to distinguish resilient vs. PTSD-like rats. Properties of extinction varied depending on whether fear conditioning and extinction occurred before or after predatory threat. When fear conditioning was carried out after predatory threat, PTSD-like rats showed a marked extinction deficit compared with resilient rats. In contrast, no differences were seen between resilient and PTSD-like rats when fear conditioning and extinction occurred prior to predatory threat. These findings in Lewis rats closely match the results seen in humans with PTSD, thereby suggesting that studies comparing neuronal interactions in resilient vs. at-risk Lewis rats might shed light on the causes and pathophysiology of human PTSD.

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Available from: Denis Paré, May 28, 2015
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