Abstract Title

Sex differences in memory precision following a pre-test cue in mice, but not rats.

Abstract

Immediately following a disturbing experience, specific contextual cues associated with the experience can elicit the initial unpleasant reaction (e.g., fear). Over time, cues that are similar, but not identical, to the original associated cues can also instigate an aversive response. This phenomenon is known as context generalization, a pathological form of which is frequently a symptom of anxiety disorders such as social anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. In order to advance understanding of the pathologies underlying these anxiety disorders, we sought to identify means to re-establish context specificity and reduce fear generalization. Mice and rats were trained in context fear conditioning, and tested at a long interval with or without exposure to the training context. We demonstrated that fear generalization was reduced through a re-exposure to the training context in rats, but not in mice. Our data indicate fear generalization was reduced in both male and female rats. However, fear generalization was only reduced in male mice, but not in females. As females are more susceptible to anxiety disorders, understanding the sex difference in fear generalization is crucial to determining sex-specific treatments for anxiety disorders.

Research Category

Psychology

Primary Author's Major

Integrative Studies

Mentor #1 Information

Dr. Aaron Jasnow

Mentor #2 Information

Joseph Lynch III

Presentation Format

Poster

Start Date

11-3-2015 1:00 PM

End Date

11-3-2015 5:00 PM

Research Area

Biological Psychology

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Sex differences in memory precision following a pre-test cue in mice, but not rats.

Immediately following a disturbing experience, specific contextual cues associated with the experience can elicit the initial unpleasant reaction (e.g., fear). Over time, cues that are similar, but not identical, to the original associated cues can also instigate an aversive response. This phenomenon is known as context generalization, a pathological form of which is frequently a symptom of anxiety disorders such as social anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. In order to advance understanding of the pathologies underlying these anxiety disorders, we sought to identify means to re-establish context specificity and reduce fear generalization. Mice and rats were trained in context fear conditioning, and tested at a long interval with or without exposure to the training context. We demonstrated that fear generalization was reduced through a re-exposure to the training context in rats, but not in mice. Our data indicate fear generalization was reduced in both male and female rats. However, fear generalization was only reduced in male mice, but not in females. As females are more susceptible to anxiety disorders, understanding the sex difference in fear generalization is crucial to determining sex-specific treatments for anxiety disorders.