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Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2005 Jun;30(5):438-52.

Affective responses to changes in day length in Siberian hamsters (Phodopus sungorus).

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA. prendergast@uchicago.edu

Abstract

The goal of these experiments was to test the hypothesis that day length influences anxious- and depressive-like behaviors in reproductively photoperiodic rodents. Male and female Siberian hamsters (Phodopus sungorus) were exposed to long (16 h light/day; LD) or short (8 h light/day; SD) photoperiods beginning at the time of weaning (day 18). Two weeks later hamsters were subjected to a series of behavioral tests to quantify anxiety-and depressive-like behaviors. In an elevated plus maze, SD males exhibited longer latencies to enter an open arm, entered fewer open arms, and spent less time exploring open arms relative to LD hamsters. SD males were likewise slower to enter either of the distal arms of a completely enclosed T-maze, and in a hunger-motivated exploratory paradigm SD males were slower to enter an open arena for food as compared to LD males. In a forced-swimming model of behavioral despair, SD males exhibited immobility sooner, more often, and for a greater total amount of time relative to LD males. Total activity levels, aversiveness to light, olfactory function, and limb strength were unaffected by SD, suggesting that the behavioral changes consequent to SD are not attributable to sensory or motor deficits, but rather may arise from changes in general affective state. The anxiogenic and depressive effects of SD were largely absent in female hamsters. Together the results indicate that adaptation to short photoperiods is associated with increased expression of anxiety- and depressive-like behaviors relative to those observed under LD photoperiod conditions.

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