Amygdala Kindling-Resistant (SLOW) or -Prone (FAST) Rat Strains Show Differential Fear Responses

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The authors compared two rat strains, selectively bred for their susceptibility to amygdala kindling, with respect to their performance on various behavioral and learning tasks that are associated with fear and anxiety. The two rat strains differed significantly in measurements of exploration of novel and familiar environments, as well as in reactivity to footshock and fear-based learning. The kindling-resistant (SLOW) strain exhibited a lower ratio of open- to closed-arm entries in the elevated plus-maze, less activity over days in the open field, greater behavioral suppression in the open-field if previously footshocked, greater freezing in the inhibitory avoidance task, and slower acquisition and poorer retention in the one-way avoidance task than did the kindling-prone (FAST) strain. These experiments suggest that the SLOW rats are more expressively fearful than the FAST rats, particularly with respect to environmentally triggered freezing or immobility. Further, these observations imply that the relatively constrained excitability of the amygdala network in the SLOW rats might mediate their relatively greater expression of fear and anxiety compared with the FAST rats.

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