Alterations between high and low-avoidance lines of Hatano rats in learning behaviors, ultrasonic vocalizations, and histological characteristics in hippocampus and amygdala

Shuichi Chiba, Toru Okawara, Kotaro Kawakami, Ryo Ohta, Maiko Kawaguchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Growing evidence supports interactions between anxiety and cognitive function. The primary object of this study was to elucidate whether high-avoidance (HAA) and low-avoidance (LAA) strains of Hatano rats are suitable for the analysis of interactions between the formation of long-term memory and emotional reactivity. The learning/memory ability of Hatano rats and their Sprague–Dawley (SD) ancestors was evaluated using contextual fear conditioning, Y-maze, and Barnes maze tests from 8 weeks of age. Ultrasonic vocalizations were recorded and analyzed during contextual fear conditioning. In a separate experiment, rat brains were sampled 90 min after the first context test and subjected to Nissl staining and c-fos immunostaining. The duration of freezing and number of 22 kHz ultrasonic vocalizations were decreased in LAA compared with HAA and SD rats during the first and second context tests of contextual fear conditioning. The HAA rats did not show preferences for quadrants during the Barnes maze probe test, whereas the SD and LAA rats spent significantly more time in the quadrant where the goals had been placed. There was no difference among the strains in short-term spatial memory as shown by the Y-maze test. Decreases were found in the number of c-fos+ cells as well as the volume of some hippocampal regions in the HAA rats compared to SD and LAA rats. By contrast, the volume of the basolateral amygdala was bigger in the HAA than the other strains. On the basis of the 22 kHz ultrasonic calls and literature regarding Syracuse rats, the possibility that emotional reactivity influences contextual memory in Hatano strains was discussed. This emotional difference may be derived from structural and/or functional divergence in the hippocampus and amygdala between the strains. The cause of strain-related differences in long-term spatial learning was difficult to elucidate because there are several possible explanations, including differences in memory and/or the interference of hyperactivity during the Barnes maze test.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113670
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Volume245
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2022

Keywords

  • Barnes maze
  • Contextual fear conditioning
  • Hatano rats
  • Hippocampus
  • Spatial learning
  • Ultrasonic vocalization

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