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Genes Brain Behav. 2013 Oct;12(7):673-80. doi: 10.1111/gbb.12067. Epub 2013 Aug 23.

Neurobiology of secure infant attachment and attachment despite adversity: a mouse model.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, University of Delaware, Newark, DE, USA.

Abstract

Attachment to an abusive caregiver has wide phylogenetic representation, suggesting that animal models are useful in understanding the neural basis underlying this phenomenon and subsequent behavioral outcomes. We previously developed a rat model, in which we use classical conditioning to parallel learning processes evoked during secure attachment (odor-stroke, with stroke mimicking tactile stimulation from the caregiver) or attachment despite adversity (odor-shock, with shock mimicking maltreatment). Here we extend this model to mice. We conditioned infant mice (postnatal day (PN) 7-9 or 13-14) with presentations of peppermint odor and either stroking or shock. We used (14) C 2-deoxyglucose (2-DG) to assess olfactory bulb and amygdala metabolic changes following learning. PN7-9 mice learned to prefer an odor following either odor-stroke or shock conditioning, whereas odor-shock conditioning at PN13-14 resulted in aversion/fear learning. 2-DG data indicated enhanced bulbar activity in PN7-9 preference learning, whereas significant amygdala activity was present following aversion learning at PN13-14. Overall, the mouse results parallel behavioral and neural results in the rat model of attachment, and provide the foundation for the use of transgenic and knockout models to assess the impact of both genetic (biological vulnerabilities) and environmental factors (abusive) on attachment-related behaviors and behavioral development.

KEYWORDS:

Animal model; attachment; infant; learning; maltreatment; memory

PMID:
23927771
PMCID:
PMC4047794
DOI:
10.1111/gbb.12067
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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