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Stress. 2012 Sep;15(5):533-44. doi: 10.3109/10253890.2011.646348. Epub 2012 Jan 10.

Juvenile stress potentiates aversive 22-kHz ultrasonic vocalizations and freezing during auditory fear conditioning in adult male rats.

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Clinical Neurobiology Laboratory, German Primate Center, Leibniz Institute for Primate Research, Kellnerweg 4, Göttingen 37077, Germany.


Traumatic experiences that occur during adolescence can render individuals vulnerable to mood and anxiety disorders. A model in juvenile rats (age: 27-29 days) was developed previously to study the long-term effects of adolescent stress exposure on behaviour and physiology. This paradigm, termed juvenile stress, involves subjecting juvenile rats to different stressors on consecutive days over a 3-day period. Here, we investigated the effects of the juvenile stress paradigm on freezing behaviour and aversive 22-kHz ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) during auditory fear conditioning in adult male rats (age: 68-90 days). We found that rats previously subjected to juvenile stress increased aversive 22-kHz USVs (total calls and time spent calling) compared with controls during fear-conditioning training. The acoustic USV parameters between control and juvenile stress rats were largely equivalent, including duration, peak frequency and amplitude. While rats did not differ in freezing behaviour during fear conditioning, juvenile stress rats exhibited greater cue-conditioned freezing upon testing 24 h later. Our results show that juvenile stress elicited different long-term changes in freezing and aversive USVs during fear conditioning. Furthermore, they highlight the importance of assessing USVs to detect experience-dependent differences between control and stress-exposed animals which are not detectable by measuring visible behaviour.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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