The effects of stress (restraint plus tail shock] on hippocampus-dependent trace eyeblink conditioning and hippocampal excitability were examined in C57BL/6 male mice. The results indicate that the stressor significantly increased the concentration of circulating corticosterone, the amount and rate of learning relative to nonstressed conditioned mice, and the excitability of CA1 hippocampal pyramidal neurons. Behaviorally, there was no effect of the stressor on control mice that received unpaired presentations of the tone and periorbital shock, i.e., neither stressed nor nonstressed control mice showed an increase in conditioned responding that was above baseline levels. Biophysically, the stressor significantly decreased the amplitude of the post-burst afterhyperpolarization [AHP) and decreased spike frequency accommodation relative to cells from nonstressed control mice. The effect was significant for mice that were stressed either 1 h or 24 h earlier. The results suggest that the stressor increases the excitability of hippocampal pyramidal neurons and that the mechanism underlying this increase may contribute to the more rapid acquisition of hippocampally dependent eyeblink conditioning.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience