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Physiol Behav. 2014 May 28;131:62-7. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2014.04.008. Epub 2014 Apr 13.

Tickling during adolescence alters fear-related and cognitive behaviors in rats after prolonged isolation.

Author information

1
Foundation for Advancement of International Science, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-0821, Japan; Graduate School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, 305-8577 Japan.
2
Institute of Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, 305-8577, Japan.
3
Foundation for Advancement of International Science, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-0821, Japan; Department of Food and Nutrition, Tokyo Kasei University, Itabashi, Tokyo 173-0003, Japan.
4
Foundation for Advancement of International Science, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-0821, Japan.
5
Institute of Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, 305-8577, Japan. Electronic address: y-ichit@human.tsukuba.ac.jp.

Abstract

Social interactions during adolescence are important especially for neuronal development and behavior. We recently showed that positive emotions induced by repeated tickling could modulate fear-related behaviors and sympatho-adrenal stress responses. In the present study, we examined whether tickling during early to late adolescence stage could reverse stress vulnerability induced by socially isolated rearing. Ninety-five male Fischer rats were reared under different conditions from postnatal day (PND) 21 to 53: group-housed (three rats/cage), isolated-nontickled (one rat/cage) and isolated-tickled (received tickling stimulation for 5min a day). Auditory fear conditioning was then performed on the rats at PND 54. Isolated-tickled rats exhibited significantly lower freezing compared with group-housed rats in the first retention test performed 48h after conditioning and compared with isolated-nontickled rats in the second retention test performed 96h after conditioning. Moreover, group-housed and isolated-tickled rats tended to show a significant decrease in freezing responses in the second retention test; however, isolated-nontickled rats did not. In the Morris water maze task that was trained in adulthood (PND 88), but not in adolescence (PND 56), isolated-nontickled rats showed slower decrease of escape latency compared to group-housed rats; however, tickling treatment significantly improved this deficit. These results suggest that tickling stimulation can alleviate the detrimental effects of isolated rearing during adolescence on fear responses and spatial learning.

KEYWORDS:

50-kHz ultrasonic vocalization; Adolescence; Fear conditioning; Morris water maze; Rats; Social isolation; Tickling

PMID:
24727339
DOI:
10.1016/j.physbeh.2014.04.008
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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