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Behav Neurosci. 2006 Apr;120(2):290-7.

Not all rat strains are equal: differential unconditioned fear responses to the synthetic fox odor 2,4,5-trimethylthiazoline in three outbred rat strains.

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Department of Psychology, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716, USA.


Predator odors induce unconditioned fear in rats; however, the synthetic predator odor 2,4,5-trimethylthiazoline (TMT) either elicits robust fear behavior (e.g., freezing) or no fear responses at all. The authors investigated whether this is due to the use of different outbred rat strains. TMT induced robust freezing in Sprague-Dawley and Long-Evans rats but not in Wistar rats. All 3 strains avoided TMT, but Wistar rats were less sensitive to TMT. Wistar rats are capable of freezing; all 3 strains displayed the same amount of odor-cue conditioned freezing. Thus, TMT is a robust unconditioned fear stimulus in rats, and prior negative results from other laboratories were due to the choice of a rat strain (Wistar) that is less responsive to TMT.

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