Sexually divergent expression of active and passive conditioned fear responses in rats

Gruene, T. M., Flick, K., Stefano, A., Shea, S. D., Shansky, R. M. (November 2015) Sexually divergent expression of active and passive conditioned fear responses in rats. Elife, 4. ISSN 2050-084X (Electronic)2050-084X (Linking)

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DOI: 10.7554/eLife.11352


Traditional rodent models of Pavlovian fear conditioning assess the strength of learning by quantifying freezing responses. However, sole reliance on this measure includes the de facto assumption that any locomotor activity reflects an absence of fear. Consequently, alternative expressions of associative learning are rarely considered. Here we identify a novel, active fear response ('darting') that occurs primarily in female rats. In females, darting exhibits the characteristics of a learned fear behavior, appearing during the CS period as conditioning proceeds and disappearing from the CS period during extinction. This finding motivates a reinterpretation of rodent fear conditioning studies, particularly in females, and it suggests that conditioned fear behavior is more diverse than previously appreciated. Moreover, rats that darted during initial fear conditioning exhibited lower freezing during the second day of extinction testing, suggesting that females employ distinct and adaptive fear response strategies that improve long-term outcomes.

Item Type: Paper
Subjects: organism description > animal behavior
organism description > animal behavior > fear
organism description > animal > gender > female
organism description > animal > gender > male
organism description > animal > mammal > rodent > rat
organism description > animal > mammal > rodent > rat
CSHL Authors:
Communities: CSHL labs > Shea lab
Depositing User: Matt Covey
Date: 14 November 2015
Date Deposited: 18 Nov 2015 16:29
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2019 19:32
PMCID: PMC4709260
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