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Behav Neurosci. 2007 Jun;121(3):462-74.

Repeated exposure to stress across the childhood-adolescent period alters rats' anxiety- and depression-like behaviors in adulthood: The importance of stressor type and gender.

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Department of Psychology, Queen's University, Kingston, ON, Canada.


This research tests the hypothesis that specific forms of adversity in early life map onto behavioral signs analogous to depression versus anxiety in later life. Male and female rats were exposed to either severe sporadic stress or chronic mild stress during the childhood-adolescent period, and their behavior was tested in adulthood. Males in the severe sporadic stress group showed exaggerated anxiety-related behaviors, as indicated by increases in shock-probe burying and escape-like responses (jumps) from the open arms of the elevated plus-maze. Females exposed to severe sporadic stress displayed no change in burying behavior but did display increases in escape behavior. These same females also exhibited behaviors analogous to depression that manifested as decreased sucrose consumption. The chronic mild stress regime produced effects only in females, including reduced burying, decreased sucrose consumption, and an exaggerated corticosterone response to cold-water immersion stress. Findings reiterate the importance of early life experience to the development of adult psychopathologies and emphasize the need to consider both the type of early experience and gender differences in these analyses.

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