Stress during puberty boosts metabolic activation associated with fear-extinction learning in hippocampus, basal amygdala and cingulate cortex

Adolescence is characterized by major developmental changes that may render the individual vulnerable to stress and the development of psychopathologies in a sex-specific manner. Earlier we reported lower anxiety-like behavior and higher risk-taking and novelty seeking in rats previously exposed to peri-pubertal stress. Here we studied whether pen-pubertal stress affected the acquisition and extinction of fear memories and/or the associated functional engagement of various brain regions, as assessed with 2-deoxyglucose. We showed that while pen-pubertal stress reduced freezing during the acquisition of fear memories (training) in both sexes, it had a sex-specific effect on extinction of these memories. Moreover hippocampus, basal amygdala and cingulate and motor cortices showed higher metabolic rates during extinction in rats exposed to pen-pubertal stress. Interestingly, activation of the infralimbic cortex was negatively correlated with freezing during extinction only in control males, while only males stressed during puberty showed a significant correlation between behavior during extinction and metabolic activation of hippocampus, amygdala and paraventricular nucleus. No correlations between brain activation and behavior during extinction were observed in females (control or stress). These results indicate that exposure to pen-pubertal stress affects behavior and brain metabolism when the individual is exposed to an additional stressful challenge. Some of these effects are sex-specific. (C) 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Neurobiol Learn Mem, 98, 93-101

 Record created 2012-08-24, last modified 2018-03-17

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