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Behavioral Neuroscience

Renee E Shimizu, Allan D Wu, Barbara J Knowlton
Effective learning results not only in improved performance on a practiced task, but also in the ability to transfer the acquired knowledge to novel, similar tasks. Using a modified serial reaction time (RT) task, the authors examined the ability to transfer to novel sequences after practicing sequences in a repetitive order versus a nonrepeating interleaved order. Interleaved practice resulted in better performance on new sequences than repetitive practice. In a second study, participants practiced interleaved sequences in a functional MRI (fMRI) scanner and received a transfer test of novel sequences...
October 17, 2016: Behavioral Neuroscience
Stella Li, Bronwyn M Graham
The first-line psychological treatment for anxiety disorders is exposure therapy, which can be modeled in the laboratory using fear extinction. In healthy women, estradiol levels predict return of fear following extinction, whereas low levels are associated with greater return of fear. Investigating whether estradiol is similarly associated with extinction in clinically anxious women may provide insight to mechanisms underlying symptom relapse following exposure therapy. In the present study, women with spider phobia and healthy women participated in a 2-day fear conditioning and extinction procedure during a period of high or low estradiol levels...
October 6, 2016: Behavioral Neuroscience
Jessica L Hanson, Laura M Hurley
A fundamental task of sensory systems is to extract relevant social information from a range of environmental stimuli in the face of changing behavioral contexts and reproductive states. Neuromodulatory pathways that interact with such contextual variables are 1 mechanism for achieving this. In the mouse inferior colliculus (IC), a midbrain auditory region, the neuromodulator serotonin increases in females interacting with courting males, but events downstream of serotonin release have not been investigated...
September 22, 2016: Behavioral Neuroscience
Sarah H Meerts, Jin Hong Park, Ria Sekhawat
Sexually experienced female rats return to the male more quickly after intromissions, exhibit shorter interintromission intervals, and spend more time with the male rat during a test of paced mating behavior in comparison to naïve rats. The present study tested whether these changes reflect heightened sexual motivation independent of receipt of vaginocervical stimulation and/or neurochemical changes in the medial preoptic area (mPOA). Ovariectomized, female rats were given estradiol benzoate and progesterone, and then received either 6 paced mating encounters (experienced) or 6 control exposures to an empty paced mating arena (naïve)...
October 2016: Behavioral Neuroscience
Jenna A McHenry, Christopher L Robison, Genevieve A Bell, Vincent V Vialou, Carlos A Bolaños-Guzmán, Eric J Nestler, Elaine M Hull
The transcription factor deltaFosB (ΔFosB) is induced in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) by repeated exposure to drugs of abuse and natural rewards. Less is known about its role in other brain areas. Here, we compared the effects of mating versus cocaine history on induction of ΔFosB in the medial preoptic area (MPOA), an integral site for reproductive behavior, and in the NAc. ΔFosB immunoreactivity (ir) was increased in the MPOA of previously naïve and experienced male rats that mated the day before euthanasia, compared to unmated controls and experienced males with recent mating abstinence...
October 2016: Behavioral Neuroscience
Janice M Kan, Bridget L Callaghan, Rick Richardson
Recent evidence has shown that pups exposed to maternal separation exhibit profound changes in their emotional development, for example, early emergence of adult-like fear retention and fear inhibition (Callaghan & Richardson, 2011; Callaghan & Richardson, 2012). Numerous studies have shown that maternal separation is also a significant stressor for the mother. However, no studies have examined how a mother's prior parenting experience affects emotion development of pups in her subsequent litters. In this study female rats were bred and were then separated from their pups (maternal separation, MS) or remained with their pups (standard rearing, SR)...
October 2016: Behavioral Neuroscience
Stephen Soncin, Donald C Brien, Brian C Coe, Alina Marin, Douglas P Munoz
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and bipolar disorder (BD) are highly comorbid and share executive function and emotion processing deficits, complicating diagnoses despite distinct clinical features. We compared performance on an oculomotor task that assessed these processes to capture subtle differences between ADHD and BD. The interaction between emotion processing and executive functioning may be informative because, although these processes overlap anatomically, certain regions that are compromised in each network are different in ADHD and BD...
October 2016: Behavioral Neuroscience
Vincent D Costa, Laura C Kakalios, Bruno B Averbeck
Dopamine and serotonin have opponent interactions on aspects of impulsivity. Therefore we wanted to test the hypothesis that dopamine and serotonin would have opposing effects on speed-accuracy trade offs in a perceptual decision making task. Unlike other behavioral measures of impulsivity, perceptual decision making allows us to determine whether decreasing premature responses, often interpreted as decreased impulsivity, corresponds to increased behavioral performance. We administered GBR-12909 (a dopamine transporter blocker), escitalopram (a serotonin transporter blocker), or saline in separate sessions to 3 rhesus macaques...
October 2016: Behavioral Neuroscience
Alya Elmadih, Ming Wai Wan, Darragh Downey, Rebecca Elliott, James E Swain, Kathryn M Abel
Increasing evidence suggests that discrete neural networks that mediate emotion processing are activated when mothers respond to infant's images or cries. Accumulating data also indicate that natural variation in maternal caregiving behavior is related to maternal oxytocin (OT) levels. However, brain activation to infant cues has not been studied comparing mothers at disparate ends of the "maternal sensitivity" spectrum. Based on observed mother-infant play interaction at 4-6 months postpartum in 80 antenatally recruited mothers, 15 mothers with the highest sensitivity (HSMs) and 15 mothers with the lowest sensitivity (LSMs) were followed at 7-9 months using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine brain responses to viewing videos of their "own" versus an "unknown" infant in 3 affect states (neutral, happy, and sad)...
October 2016: Behavioral Neuroscience
Michelle L Tomaszycki, Kimberly K Richardson, Kyle J Mann
The nonapeptides oxytocin and vasopressin have been implicated in a variety of social behaviors. In zebra finches, oxytocin antagonists decrease pairing in both sexes, and pairing, in turn, increases expression of both mesotocin (the avian homologue of oxytocin) and vasotocin (the avian homologue of vasopressin). Increases in mesotocin and vasotocin mRNA are correlated with the amount of directed singing by males. Thus, in the present study, we examined the hypothesis that activation of cells containing nonapeptide receptors in song-related regions (ventral tegmental area, lateral septum, and medial preoptic nucleus) would also be correlated with directed singing in males...
October 2016: Behavioral Neuroscience
Nadja Herten, Tobias Otto, Dirk Adolph, Bettina M Pause, Robert Kumsta, Oliver T Wolf
Cortisol release in a stressful situation can be beneficial for memory encoding and memory consolidation. Stimuli, such as odors, related to the stressful episode may successfully cue memory contents of the stress experience. The current investigation aimed at testing the potency of stress to influence startle responsivity 24 hr later and to implicitly reactivate emotional memory traces triggered by an odor involved. Participants were assigned to either a stress (Trier Social Stress Test [TSST]) or control (friendly TSST [f-TSST]) condition featuring an ambient odor...
October 2016: Behavioral Neuroscience
Michal Bialy, Wiktor Bogacki-Rychlik, Kaja Kasarello, Evgeni Nikolaev, Elzbieta M Sajdel-Sulkowska
It has been assumed that the 22-kHz ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) are emitted by adult rats as a result of a negative emotional state. However, emission of the 22-kHz vocalizations by male rats has been also observed following ejaculation, which has a high rewarding value as shown by a conditioned place preference test. These observations suggest that 22-kHz USVs may also occur in response to a positive emotional state. The aim of this study was to determine whether the postejaculatory 22-kHz USVs are related to conditioning processes...
August 2016: Behavioral Neuroscience
Maliha Naeem, Norman M White
In an autoshaping task, a single conditioned stimulus (CS; lever insertion) was repeatedly followed by the delivery of an unconditioned stimulus (US; food pellet into an adjacent food magazine) irrespective of the rats' behavior. After repeated training trials, some rats responded to the onset of the CS by approaching and pressing the lever (sign-trackers). Lesions of dorsolateral striatum almost completely eliminated responding to the lever CS while facilitating responding to the food magazine (US). Lesions of the dorsomedial striatum attenuated but did not eliminate responding to the lever CS...
August 2016: Behavioral Neuroscience
Gordon Winocur, J Martin Wojtowicz, Christina M Merkley, Ian F Tannock
Clinical studies indicate that up to 70% of cancer patients who receive chemotherapy experience cognitive impairment. The present study investigated environmental enrichment as a protective factor against the adverse effects of anticancer drugs on cognitive and biological processes in an animal model. Adult rats were housed in group cages with environmental stimulation or in standard cages for 3 months, before receiving 3 weekly injections of methotrexate + 5-fluorouracil, or equal volumes of saline. Rats were then administered tests of learning and memory that are sensitive to hippocampal or frontal lobe dysfunction...
August 2016: Behavioral Neuroscience
Chloe Luck, Martha H Vitaterna, Rachel Wevrick
The etiology of abnormal eating behaviors, including binge-eating disorder, is poorly understood. The neural circuits modulating the activities of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin are proposed to be dysfunctional in individuals suffering from eating disorders. Prader-Willi syndrome is a neurodevelopmental disorder that causes extreme food seeking and binge-eating behaviors together with reduced satiety. One of the genes implicated in Prader-Willi syndrome, Magel2, is highly expressed in the regions of the brain that control appetite...
August 2016: Behavioral Neuroscience
Neda Assareh, Mahsa Sarrami, Pascal Carrive, Gavan P McNally
Rodents display characteristic defense responses to predators that are influenced by predatory imminence. The midbrain periaqueductal gray (PAG) serves an important role controlling these responses. The most influential model states that variations in defensive topography are due to distinct PAG regions: ventrolateral PAG (VLPAG) controls postencounter defense, such as freezing and immobility, whereas lateral PAG (LPAG) controls circa-strike defense, such as escape and flight. Here we used channel rhodopsin (ChR2) stimulation to probe the structure of defensive behavior controlled by LPAG and VLPAG...
August 2016: Behavioral Neuroscience
Joseph Sollini, Ana Alves-Pinto, Christian J Sumner
Psychophysical experiments seek to measure the limits of perception. While straightforward in humans, in animals they are time consuming. Choosing an appropriate task and interpreting measurements can be challenging. We investigated the localization of high-frequency auditory signals in noise using an "approach-to-target" task in ferrets, how task performance should be interpreted in terms of perception, and how the measurements relate to other types of tasks. To establish their general ability to localize, animals were first trained to discriminate broadband noise from 12 locations...
August 2016: Behavioral Neuroscience
Peter C Holland
Prediction error (PE) plays a critical role in most modern theories of associative learning, by determining the effectiveness of conditioned stimuli (CS) or unconditioned stimuli (US). Here, we examined the effects of lesions of central (CeA) or basolateral (BLA) amygdala on performance in overexpectation tasks. In 2 experiments, after 2 CSs were separately paired with the US, they were combined and followed by the same US. In a subsequent test, we observed losses in strength of both CSs, as expected if the negative PE generated on reinforced compound trials encouraged inhibitory learning...
August 2016: Behavioral Neuroscience
Cody A Burleson, Robert W Pedersen, Sahba Seddighi, Lauren E DeBusk, Gordon M Burghardt, Matthew A Cooper
Social play is a fundamental aspect of behavioral development in many species. Social play deprivation in rats alters dendritic morphology in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) and we have shown that this brain region regulates responses to social defeat stress in Syrian hamsters. In this study, we tested whether play deprivation during the juvenile period disrupts dendritic morphology in the prefrontal cortex and potentiates the effects of social defeat stress. At weaning, male hamsters were either group-housed with peers or pair-housed with their mother, with whom they do not play...
August 2016: Behavioral Neuroscience
Jari Willing, Carly M Drzewiecki, Bethany A Cuenod, Laura R Cortes, Janice M Juraska
Adolescence is characterized by neuroanatomical changes that coincide with increased cognitive performance. This developmental period is particularly important for the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), which mediates higher-order cognitive functioning. The authors' laboratory has shown that puberty is associated with sex-specific changes in neuron number and the dendritic tree in the rat mPFC, but the effects of pubertal onset on cognitive performance remain relatively unexplored. Here, we use a water maze task to assess spatial memory for the location of an escape platform, followed by a test of reversal learning, when the platform is moved to an alternate quadrant in the maze...
August 2016: Behavioral Neuroscience
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