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Brain Mechanisms Underlying Individual Differences in Reaction to Stress: An Animal Model

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Final rept. 23 Jun 1980-22 Sep 1984

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The cat and rat were investigated as animal models for the correlation of individual behavior with a readily obtainable electrophysiological measure, viz. augmentingreducing of the visual evoked potential VEP. The VEP in cats was found to be an identifiable individual signature, stable over periods of more than one year. The VEP in response to an intensity series of light flashes at a medium range of intensities was reliable over time and showed significant individual differences in response to the more intense stimuli. Some cats showed increasing VEP amplitudes to intense simulation augmenters, while others showed cortical inhibition, reducing the amplitude of the VEP to more intense stimuli reducers. Augmenter cats were more exploratory and active in a behavioral chamber, and when confronted with a variety of novel and or aversive stimuli were more reactive and responsive. This behavioral difference predicted task performance in an operant conditioning chamber. The augmenter cats were more reactive and were not as effective in exerting inhibitory control on behavior as were the reducers. Reducer cats learned a bar press inhibitory task more quickly, were less distracted by loud noise bursts and were able to tolerate more difficult tasks than the augmenter cats.

Subject Categories:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Stress Physiology

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