Abstract Title

Determining the role of estradiol in cued fear and extinction generalization

Abstract

Women are more likely than men to develop anxiety disorders in their lifetime. One characteristic of these disorders is the generalization of fear to neutral stimuli, but the mechanisms underlying this are not completely identified. We have previously demonstrated that female rats generalize fear to a neutral context at a faster rate compared to males. Given that fear generalization is a characteristic of these disorders and the sex differences in the prevalence rates of anxiety disorders, we wanted to look at estradiol’s role in the generalization of extinction learning (renewal) and the discrimination between two tones. Therefore, animals were trained to fear a tone by pairing it with a shock in Context A. Twenty-four hours later, animals underwent extinction to the tone in Context B. Twenty-four hours after extinction, animals were tested to assess the renewal of fear. We expect to find that given animals estradiol will display significantly less renewal as estradiol should enhance the generalization of extinction. We also measured whether or not the animals were able to discriminate between two separate cues, one that is paired with a shock (CS+) and one that is never paired with a shock (CS-). We expect to find animals given estradiol will display generalized fear to the CS-. These results may indicate the treatment of anxiety disorders need to be sex specific. Understanding the neural mechanisms underlying fear generalization is important for developing potential novel therapeutic treatments for anxiety disorders, especially for those populations with higher prevalence rates.

Modified Abstract

One characteristic of anxiety disorders is the generalization of fear, but the mechanisms underlying this are not completely identified. We assessed estradiol’s role in the generalization of extinction learning (renewal) and cued discrimination. Therefore, animals were trained to fear a tone by pairing it with a shock in Context A and then extinguished. Twenty-four hours after extinction, animals were tested to assess the renewal of fear. We expect to find that given animals estradiol will display significantly less renewal as estradiol should enhance the generalization of extinction. We also trained animals to a CS+ and a CS-. We expect to find animals given estradiol will display generalized fear to the CS-. These results may indicate the treatment of anxiety disorders need to be sex specific.

Research Category

Psychology

Primary Author's Major

Psychology

Mentor #1 Information

Mr. Joseph Lynch III

Mentor #2 Information

Dr. Aaron Jasnow

Presentation Format

Poster

Start Date

March 2016

Research Area

Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences

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Mar 15th, 1:00 PM

Determining the role of estradiol in cued fear and extinction generalization

Women are more likely than men to develop anxiety disorders in their lifetime. One characteristic of these disorders is the generalization of fear to neutral stimuli, but the mechanisms underlying this are not completely identified. We have previously demonstrated that female rats generalize fear to a neutral context at a faster rate compared to males. Given that fear generalization is a characteristic of these disorders and the sex differences in the prevalence rates of anxiety disorders, we wanted to look at estradiol’s role in the generalization of extinction learning (renewal) and the discrimination between two tones. Therefore, animals were trained to fear a tone by pairing it with a shock in Context A. Twenty-four hours later, animals underwent extinction to the tone in Context B. Twenty-four hours after extinction, animals were tested to assess the renewal of fear. We expect to find that given animals estradiol will display significantly less renewal as estradiol should enhance the generalization of extinction. We also measured whether or not the animals were able to discriminate between two separate cues, one that is paired with a shock (CS+) and one that is never paired with a shock (CS-). We expect to find animals given estradiol will display generalized fear to the CS-. These results may indicate the treatment of anxiety disorders need to be sex specific. Understanding the neural mechanisms underlying fear generalization is important for developing potential novel therapeutic treatments for anxiety disorders, especially for those populations with higher prevalence rates.