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Neuroreport. 1998 Feb 16;9(3):419-23.

Stages of estrous mediate the stress-induced impairment of associative learning in the female rat.

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Department of Psychology, Princeton University, NJ 08544-1010, USA.


Exposure to a stressful event facilitates classical eyeblink conditioning in male rats and impairs conditioning in females. The contribution of stages of estrous to the stress-induced impairment of eyeblink conditioning was evaluated. Females in proestrus, estrus and diestrus were either exposed to an acute stressor of intermittent tailshocks or swim stress and compared to unstressed females in the three stages. Females in proestrus, when estrogen levels are high, acquired the conditioned response at a facilitated rate relative to females in other stages. However, exposure to a stressor of either intermittent tailshocks or inescapable swim stress severely impaired acquisition in females during proestrus. These results suggest that the enhancing effect of estrogen on procedural memory formation is disrupted by previous exposure to a stressful event.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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