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J Gen Psychol. 2007 Apr;134(2):153-72.

Brief flight to a familiar enclosure in response to a conditional stimulus in rats.

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Psychology Program, California State University, Channel Islands CA 93012, USA.


The authors observed brief, directed movement to a familiar enclosure in rats to determine whether this behavior is part of a rat's defensive repertoire when exposed to a conditional-fear stimulus. In Experiment 1, upon exposure to the compound conditional-fear stimulus of tone and light, only rats that received paired presentations of the conditional stimuli and shock fled into a small, familiar enclosure where they then froze. Rats that had received unpaired presentations did not enter the enclosure in significant amounts when later tested. In Experiment 2, the authors observed rats' freezing and use of either a familiar or an unfamiliar enclosure when tested with a conditional-fear stimulus. Rats tested with a familiar enclosure entered it more quickly than did rats without prior exposure to the enclosure. Freezing was greatest when both training and testing environments were similar with respect to access to the enclosure. The results of these 2 experiments support the idea that brief, directed flight in rats is a component of the postencounter stage of predatory imminence (M. S. Fanselow & L. S. Lester, 1988) and is compatible with freezing.

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