TitleThe prefrontal cortex communicates with the amygdala to impair learning after an acute stressful experience in females
NameMaeng, Lisa Y. (author), Shors, Tracey J (chair), Otto, Tim (internal member), West, Mark (internal member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
Brain--Effect of stress on,
Women--Health and hygiene,
Learning, Psychology of
DescriptionExposure to an acute stressful event enhances classical eyeblink conditioning in male rats, whereas exposure to the same event dramatically impairs performance in females (Wood & Shors, 1998; Wood et al., 2001). We hypothesized that stress affects learning differently in males and females because different brain regions and circuits are being activated. In the first experiment, we determined that neuronal activity within the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) during the stressful event is necessary to disrupt learning in females. In both males and females, the mPFC was bilaterally inactivated with GABA agonist muscimol prior to the stressor. Inactivation only prevented the impaired performance in females; it had no consequence for performance in males. Previous studies indicate that neuronal activity within the basolateral amygdala (BLA) during the stressful event is necessary for the impaired performance in females (Waddell et al., 2008). In the second experiment, we hypothesized that the mPFC communicates with the BLA to disrupt learning in females after the stressor. To test this hypothesis, these structures were disconnected from each other with unilateral excitotoxic (NMDA) lesions on either the same or opposite sides of the brain. Females with contralateral lesions, which disrupt the connections on both sides of the brain, were able to learn after the stressful event, whereas those with ipsilateral lesions, which disrupt only one connection, did not learn after the stressor. Together, these data indicate that the mPFC is preferentially engaged in females during stress to impair subsequent learning and does so via communication with the amygdala.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby Lisa Y. Maeng
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.