Effect of nonaversive and aversive stimulations in infancy on the acoustic startle response in adult rats
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Two groups, each consisting of 8 three-week-old rat pups, were exposed to different behavioral treatments with the aim to determine how the experimental manipulation influenced their adult emotional reactivity. Every day for two weeks the pups from the first group received 15 min of handling whereas the animals from the second group were exposed to various aversive stimuli, differing each day. Following these manipulations, after a 5-day break the acoustic startle response (ASR) was measured in all animals and the testing was repeated after another four weeks. Statistical analysis of the data revealed significant differences between g<->roups in the ASR parameters. Surprisingly, in the test which directly followed the treatment the mean ASR amplitudes were similar in both g<->roups. Highly significant differences, however, were observed in the ASR amplitude four weeks later. The rats from the handling group responded with greater amplitudes. The latency of the ASR was significantly shorter in the nonaversive group compared with the second group exposed to aversive stimuli. The results suggest that early exposure to aversive stimulation significantly decreases rats emotional reactivity whereas nonaversive and impoverished stimulation clearly elevates arousal levels when the animal is placed in a novel situation.
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J. W. Blaszczyk, Department of Neurophysiology, Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology,3 Pasteur St., 02-093 Warsaw, Poland, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org