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Behav Neurosci. 2006 Dec;120(6):1299-307.

Orbital frontal cortex ablations of rock squirrels (Spermophilus variegatus) disinhibit innate antisnake behavior.

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Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


The antisnake behavior of rock squirrels (Spermophilus variegatus) was examined to determine the role of the orbital frontal cortex in regulating physiological arousal and behavioral excitability during encounters with a rattlesnake predator. Rock squirrels with orbital frontal cortex ablations and sham-surgery control squirrels were presented with a caged rattlesnake pre- and postsurgery. Orbital frontal cortex ablations had no substantial effect on the expression of gross motor behavior in dealing with the rattlesnake, but they augmented the speed of snake recognition and clearly disinhibited sympathetic arousal as manifested by increased tail piloerection and tail-flagging activity, which is a specific antisnake behavior. Natural selection from snakes has probably shaped the neural organization of the orbital frontal cortex to afford adaptive behavioral flexibility during snake encounters.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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