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Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
Journal Prestige (SJR): 1.749
Citation Impact (citeScore): 3
Number of Followers: 31  

  This is an Open Access Journal Open Access journal
ISSN (Online) 1662-5153
Published by Frontiers Media Homepage  [96 journals]
  • Prenatal stress unmasks behavioral phenotypes in genetic mouse models of
           neurodevelopmental disorders

    • Authors: Kathryn M. Harper, Samuel J. Harp, Sheryl S. Moy
      Abstract: Neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) are complex conditions characterized by heterogeneous clinical profiles and symptoms that arise in infancy and childhood. NDDs are often attributed to a complicated interaction between genetic risk and environmental factors, suggesting a need for preclinical models reflecting the combined impact of heritable susceptibility and environmental effects. A notable advantage of “two-hit” models is the power to reveal underlying vulnerability that may not be detected in studies employing only genetic or environmental alterations. In this review, we summarize existing literature that investigates detrimental interactions between prenatal stress (PNS) and genes associated with NDDs, with a focus on behavioral phenotyping approaches in mouse models. A challenge in determining the overall role of PNS exposure in genetic models is the diversity of approaches for inducing stress, variability in developmental timepoints for exposure, and differences in phenotyping regimens across laboratories. Identification of optimal stress protocols and critical windows for developmental effects would greatly improve the use of PNS in gene × environment mouse models of NDDs.
      PubDate: 2023-09-22T00:00:00Z
  • Longitudinal changes in attention bias to infant crying in primiparous

    • Authors: Daiki Hiraoka, Kai Makita, Nobuko Sakakibara, Shigemi Morioka, Makoto Orisaka, Yoshio Yoshida, Akemi Tomoda
      Abstract: IntroductionInfant stimuli attract caregiver attention and motivate parenting behavior. Studies have confirmed the existence of attentional bias toward infant face stimuli; however, relatively little is known about whether attentional bias exists for infant cry stimuli, which are as important as faces in child-rearing situations. Furthermore, scarce longitudinal evidence exists on how attentional bias toward infant crying changes through the postpartum period.MethodsIn the present study, we conducted an experiment to assess bias toward infant crying at two postpartum time points: at Time 1 (Mean = 75.24 days), 45 first-time mothers participated and at Time 2 (Mean = 274.33 days), 30 mothers participated. At both time points, the mothers participated in a Stroop task with infant crying and white noise as the stimuli. They were instructed to answer the color out loud as quickly and accurately as possible, while ignoring the sound. Four types of audio stimuli were used in this task (the cry of the mother’s own infant, the cry of an unfamiliar infant, white noise matched to the cry of the mother’s own infant, and white noise matched to the cry of an unfamiliar infant), one of which was presented randomly before each trial. Response time and the correct response rate for each condition were the dependent variables.ResultsFor response time, the main effect of familiarity was significant, with longer response times when the participant’s infant’s cry was presented. In addition, response times were lower at Time 2 than at Time 1 in some conditions in which crying was presented.DiscussionThe results suggest that mothers may be less disturbed by infant crying as they gain more experience. Elucidating the characteristics of postpartum mothers’ changes in cognitive performance related to infants’ cries would be useful in fundamental and applied research to understand the process of parents’ adaptation to parenting.
      PubDate: 2023-09-22T00:00:00Z
  • Challenges and advanced concepts for the assessment of learning and memory
           function in mice

    • Authors: Benjamin Lang, Pia Kahnau, Katharina Hohlbaum, Paul Mieske, Niek P. Andresen, Marcus N. Boon, Christa Thöne-Reineke, Lars Lewejohann, Kai Diederich
      Abstract: The mechanisms underlying the formation and retrieval of memories are still an active area of research and discussion. Manifold models have been proposed and refined over the years, with most assuming a dichotomy between memory processes involving non-conscious and conscious mechanisms. Despite our incomplete understanding of the underlying mechanisms, tests of memory and learning count among the most performed behavioral experiments. Here, we will discuss available protocols for testing learning and memory using the example of the most prevalent animal species in research, the laboratory mouse. A wide range of protocols has been developed in mice to test, e.g., object recognition, spatial learning, procedural memory, sequential problem solving, operant- and fear conditioning, and social recognition. Those assays are carried out with individual subjects in apparatuses such as arenas and mazes, which allow for a high degree of standardization across laboratories and straightforward data interpretation but are not without caveats and limitations. In animal research, there is growing concern about the translatability of study results and animal welfare, leading to novel approaches beyond established protocols. Here, we present some of the more recent developments and more advanced concepts in learning and memory testing, such as multi-step sequential lockboxes, assays involving groups of animals, as well as home cage-based assays supported by automated tracking solutions; and weight their potential and limitations against those of established paradigms. Shifting the focus of learning tests from the classical experimental chamber to settings which are more natural for rodents comes with a new set of challenges for behavioral researchers, but also offers the opportunity to understand memory formation and retrieval in a more conclusive way than has been attainable with conventional test protocols. We predict and embrace an increase in studies relying on methods involving a higher degree of automatization, more naturalistic- and home cage-based experimental setting as well as more integrated learning tasks in the future. We are confident these trends are suited to alleviate the burden on animal subjects and improve study designs in memory research.
      PubDate: 2023-09-21T00:00:00Z
  • Environmental enrichment improves hippocampus-dependent spatial learning
           in female C57BL/6 mice in novel IntelliCage sweet reward-based behavioral

    • Authors: Giulia Bramati, Pia Stauffer, Martina Nigri, David P. Wolfer, Irmgard Amrein
      Abstract: The IntelliCage is an automated home-cage system that allows researchers to investigate the spontaneous behavior and learning abilities of group-housed mice. The IntelliCage enables us to increase the standardization and reproducibility of behavioral outcomes by the omission of experimenter–mouse interactions. Although the IntelliCage provides a less stressful environment for animals, standard IntelliCage protocols use controlled water access as the motivational driver for learning. To overcome possible water restrictions in slow learners, we developed a series of novel protocols based on appetitive learning, in which mice had permanent access to plain water but were additionally rewarded with sweetened water upon solving the task. C57BL/6NCrl female mice were used to assess the efficacy of these sweet reward-based protocols in a series of learning tasks. Compared to control mice tested with standard protocols, mice motivated with a sweet reward did equal to or better in operant performance and place learning tasks. Learning of temporal rules was slower than that in controls. When faced with a combined temporal x spatial working memory task, sweet-rewarded mice learned little and chose plain water. In a second set of experiments, the impact of environmental enrichment on appetitive learning was tested. Mice kept under enriched environment (EE) or standard housing (SH) conditions prior to the IntelliCage experiments performed similarly in the sweet-rewarded place learning task. EE mice performed better in the hippocampus-dependent spatial working memory task. The improved performance of EE mice in the hippocampus-dependent spatial working memory task might be explained by the observed larger volume of their mossy fibers. Our results confirm that environmental enrichment increases complex spatial learning abilities and leads to long-lasting morphological changes in the hippocampus. Furthermore, simple standard IntelliCage protocols could easily be adapted to sweet rewards, which improve animal welfare by removing the possibility of water restriction. However, complex behavioral tasks motivated by sweet reward-based learning need further adjustments to reach the same efficacy as standard protocols.
      PubDate: 2023-09-18T00:00:00Z
  • Parsing the contributions of negative affect vs. aversive motivation to
           cognitive control: an experimental

    • Authors: Qian Yang, ShuangQing Si, Gilles Pourtois
      Abstract: IntroductionPunishment is a powerful drive that fosters aversive motivation and increases negative affect. Previous studies have reported that this drive has the propensity to improve cognitive control, as shown by improved conflict processing when it is used. However, whether aversive motivation per se or negative affect eventually drives this change remains unclear because in previous work, the specific contribution of these two components could not be isolated.MethodsTo address this question, we conducted two experiments where we administered the confound minimized Stroop task to a large group of participants each time (N = 50 and N = 47 for Experiment 1 and 2, respectively) and manipulated punishment and feedback contingency using a factorial design. These two experiments were similar except that in the second one, we also measured awareness of feedback contingency at the subjective level. We reasoned that cognitive control would improve the most when punishment would be used, and the contingency between this motivational drive and performance would be reinforced, selectively.ResultsBoth experiments consistently showed that negative affect increased at the subjective level when punishment was used and the feedback was contingent on task performance, with these two effects being additive. In Experiment 1, we found that when the feedback was contingent on task performance and punishment was activated, conflict processing did not improve. In Experiment 2, we found that conflict processing improved when punishment was contingent on task performance, and participants were aware of this contingency.DiscussionThese results suggest that aversive motivation can improve conflict processing when participants are aware of the link created between punishment and performance.
      PubDate: 2023-09-18T00:00:00Z
  • Pharmacological activation of the amygdala, but not single prolonged
           footshock-induced acute stress, interferes with cue-induced motivation
           toward food rewards in rats

    • Authors: Chien-Wen Lai, Chun-hui Chang
      Abstract: In the face of threats, animals adapt their behaviors to cope with the situation. Under such circumstances, irrelevant behaviors are usually suppressed. In this study, we examined whether food-seeking motivation would decrease under activation of the amygdala, an important nucleus in the regulation of stress response in the central nervous system, or after a physical acute stress session. In Experiment 1, we pharmacologically activated the basolateral nucleus (BLA) or the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) before a cue-induced reinstatement test in rats. Our results showed that activation of the BLA or the CeA abolished cue-induced motivation toward food rewards, while locomotor activity and free food intake were not affected. In Experiments 2 and 3, we further assessed anxiety and despair levels, as well as cue-induced reinstatement, after a single prolonged footshock-induced acute stress in rats. Behaviorally, acute stress did not affect anxiety level, despair level, or cue-induced motivation toward food rewards. Physiologically, there was no difference in cellular activities of the amygdala immediately after acute stress. To conclude, our results suggested that pharmacological activation of the amygdala decreased cue-induced motivation toward food reward. However, physiological acute stress did not immediately interfere with the negative emotions, motivation, or amygdala activities of the animals.
      PubDate: 2023-09-14T00:00:00Z
  • Linking drug and food addiction: an overview of the shared neural circuits
           and behavioral phenotype

    • Authors: Alice Passeri, Diana Municchi, Giulia Cavalieri, Lucy Babicola, Rossella Ventura, Matteo Di Segni
      Abstract: Despite a lack of agreement on its definition and inclusion as a specific diagnosable disturbance, the food addiction construct is supported by several neurobiological and behavioral clinical and preclinical findings. Recognizing food addiction is critical to understanding how and why it manifests. In this overview, we focused on those as follows: 1. the hyperpalatable food effects in food addiction development; 2. specific brain regions involved in both food and drug addiction; and 3. animal models highlighting commonalities between substance use disorders and food addiction. Although results collected through animal studies emerged from protocols differing in several ways, they clearly highlight commonalities in behavioral manifestations and neurobiological alterations between substance use disorders and food addiction characteristics. To develop improved food addiction models, this heterogeneity should be acknowledged and embraced so that research can systematically investigate the role of specific variables in the development of the different behavioral features of addiction-like behavior in preclinical models.
      PubDate: 2023-09-12T00:00:00Z
  • Teleosts as behaviour test models for social stress

    • Authors: Nicola Hong Yun Lai, Izzati Adriana Mohd Zahir, Anthony Kin Yip Liew, Satoshi Ogawa, Ishwar Parhar, Tomoko Soga
      Abstract: Stress is an important aspect of our everyday life and exposure to it is an unavoidable occurrence. In humans, this can come in the form of social stress or physical stress from an injury. Studies in animal models have helped researchers to understand the body’s adaptive response to stress in human. Notably, the use of behavioural tests in animal models plays a pivotal role in understanding the neural, endocrine and behavioural changes induced by social stress. Under socially stressed conditions, behavioural parameters are often measured physiological and molecular parameters as changes in behaviour are direct responses to stress and are easily assessed by behavioural tests. Throughout the past few decades, the rodent model has been used as a well-established animal model for stress and behavioural changes. Recently, more attention has been drawn towards using fish as an animal model. Common fish models such as zebrafish, medaka, and African cichlids have the advantage of a higher rate of reproduction, easier handling techniques, sociability and most importantly, share evolutionary conserved genetic make-up, neural circuitry, neuropeptide molecular structure and function with mammalian species. In fact, some fish species exhibit a clear diurnal or seasonal rhythmicity in their stress response, similar to humans, as opposed to rodents. Various social stress models have been established in fish including but not limited to chronic social defeat stress, social stress avoidance, and social stress-related decision-making. The huge variety of behavioural patterns in teleost also aids in the study of more behavioural phenotypes than the mammalian species. In this review, we focus on the use of fish models as alternative models to study the effects of stress on different types of behaviours. Finally, fish behavioural tests against the typical mammalian model-based behavioural test are compared and discussed for their viability.
      PubDate: 2023-09-07T00:00:00Z
  • Trait anxiety modulates the detection sensitivity of negative affect in
           speech: an online pilot study

    • Authors: Achyuthanand K, Saurabh Prasad, Mrinmoy Chakrabarty
      Abstract: Acoustic perception of emotions in speech is relevant for humans to navigate the social environment optimally. While sensory perception is known to be influenced by ambient noise, and bodily internal states (e.g., emotional arousal and anxiety), their relationship to human auditory perception is relatively less understood. In a supervised, online pilot experiment sans the artificially controlled laboratory environment, we asked if the detection sensitivity of emotions conveyed by human speech-in-noise (acoustic signals) varies between individuals with relatively lower and higher levels of subclinical trait-anxiety, respectively. In a task, participants (n = 28) accurately discriminated the target emotion conveyed by the temporally unpredictable acoustic signals (signal to noise ratio = 10 dB), which were manipulated at four levels (Happy, Neutral, Fear, and Disgust). We calculated the empirical area under the curve (a measure of acoustic signal detection sensitivity) based on signal detection theory to answer our questions. A subset of individuals with High trait-anxiety relative to Low in the above sample showed significantly lower detection sensitivities to acoustic signals of negative emotions – Disgust and Fear and significantly lower detection sensitivities to acoustic signals when averaged across all emotions. The results from this pilot study with a small but statistically relevant sample size suggest that trait-anxiety levels influence the overall acoustic detection of speech-in-noise, especially those conveying threatening/negative affect. The findings are relevant for future research on acoustic perception anomalies underlying affective traits and disorders.
      PubDate: 2023-09-07T00:00:00Z
  • A mild stressor induces short-term anxiety and long-term phenotypic
           changes in trauma-related behavior in female

    • Authors: Khadijah Shanazz, Rebecca Nalloor, Almira Vazdarjanova
      Abstract: IntroductionAnxiety and anxiety-influenced disorders are sexually dimorphic with women being disproportionately affected compared to men. Given the increased prevalence in women and the documented differences in anxiety and trauma behavior between male and female rats this paper sought to examine the link between stress, anxiety, and fear learning and extinction in female rats. We tested the hypothesis that a mild stressor will induce short-and long-term increases in anxiety and produce long term effects on subsequent fear learning and extinction behavior.MethodsWe induced anxiety in female Sprague– Dawley rats with a short (3 min) exposure to a ball of cat hair infused with 150 μl of cat urine (mild stressor) that elicits innate fear but does not cause fear conditioning. The control group was exposed to fake cat hair. Anxiety was assessed in the Light-Dark Open Field (LDOF) or Elevated Plus Maze (EPM) before, immediately after and 4 days after stimulus exposure. Two weeks later, all animals were subject to Contextual Fear Conditioning (CFC) in the Shock Arm of a Y-maze, blocked off from the rest of the maze. Memory and fear extinction (learning of safety) was assessed in the following four days by placing each rat in one of the Safe Arms and measuring avoidance extinction (time spent and number of entries in the Shock Arm).ResultsCat hair exposure induced changes in anxiety-like behavior in the short-term that appeared resolved 4 days later. However, the cat-hair exposed rats had long-term (2 weeks) phenotypic changes expressed as altered exploratory behavior in an emotionally neutral novel place. Fear learning and extinction were not impaired. Yet, using avoidance extinction, we demonstrated that the phenotypic difference induced by the mild stressor could be documented and dissociated from learning and memory.DiscussionThese findings demonstrate that the history of stress, even mild stress, has subtle long-term effects on behavior even when short-term anxiety appears resolved.
      PubDate: 2023-09-04T00:00:00Z
  • Tissue clearing applications in memory engram research

    • Authors: Kwok Yui Tony Yip, Johannes Gräff
      Abstract: A memory engram is thought to be the physical substrate of the memory trace within the brain, which is generally depicted as a neuronal ensemble activated by learning to fire together during encoding and retrieval. It has been postulated that engram cell ensembles are functionally interconnected across multiple brain regions to store a single memory as an “engram complex”, but visualizing this engram complex across the whole brain has for long been hindered by technical limitations. With the recent development of tissue clearing techniques, advanced light-sheet microscopy, and automated 3D image analysis, it has now become possible to generate a brain-wide map of engram cells and thereby to visualize the “engram complex”. In this review, we first provide a comprehensive summary of brain-wide engram mapping studies to date. We then compile a guide on implementing the optimal tissue clearing technique for engram tagging approaches, paying particular attention to visualize engram reactivation as a critical mnemonic property, for which whole-brain multiplexed immunostaining becomes a challenging prerequisite. Finally, we highlight the potential of tissue clearing to simultaneously shed light on both the circuit connectivity and molecular underpinnings of engram cells in a single snapshot. In doing so, novel brain regions and circuits can be identified for subsequent functional manipulation, thus providing an opportunity to robustly examine the “engram complex” underlying memory storage.
      PubDate: 2023-08-28T00:00:00Z
  • Evaluation of electroacupuncture as a non-pharmacological therapy for
           astrocytic structural aberrations and behavioral deficits in a
           post-ischemic depression model in

    • Authors: Jingwen Wang, Xin Deng, Jin Jiang, Zhengyu Yao, Yaxin Ju, Yong Luo
      Abstract: BackgroundAscending clinical evidence supports that electroacupuncture (EA) is effective in treating post-ischemic depression (PID), but little is known about how it works at the cellular level. Astrocytes are exquisitely sensitive to their extracellular environment, and under stressful conditions, they may experience aberrant structural remodeling that can potentially cause neuroplastic disturbances and contribute to subsequent changes in mood or behavior.ObjectivesThis study aimed to investigate the effect of EA on behavioral deficits associated with PID in mice and verify the hypothesis that astrocytic morphology may be involved in this impact.MethodsWe established a PID animal model induced by transient bilateral common carotid artery occlusion (BCCAO, 20 min) and chronic restraint stress (CRS, 21 days). EA treatment (GV20 + ST36) was performed for 3 weeks, from Monday to Friday each week. Depressive- and anxiety-like behaviors and sociability were evaluated using SPT, FST, EPM, and SIT. Immunohistochemistry combined with Sholl and cell morphological analysis was utilized to assess the process morphology of GFAP+ astrocytes in mood-related regions. The potential relationship between morphological changes in astrocytes and behavioral output was detected by correlation analysis.ResultsBehavioral assays demonstrated that EA treatment induced an overall reduction in behavioral deficits, as measured by the behavioral Z-score. Sholl and morphological analyses revealed that EA prevented the decline in cell complexity of astrocytes in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and the CA1 region of the hippocampus, where astrocytes displayed evident deramification and atrophy of the branches. Eventually, the correlation analysis showed there was a relationship between behavioral emotionality and morphological changes.ConclusionOur findings imply that EA prevents both behavioral deficits and structural abnormalities in astrocytes in the PID model. The strong correlation between behavioral Z-scores and the observed morphological changes confirms the notion that the weakening of astrocytic processes may play a crucial role in depressive symptoms, and astrocytes could be a potential target of EA in the treatment of PID.
      PubDate: 2023-08-28T00:00:00Z
  • The Shank3-InsG3680(+/+) mouse model of autism spectrum disorder displays
           auditory avoidance in a novel behavioral

    • Authors: Ana Margarida Gonçalves, Nuno Sousa, Luis Jacinto, Patricia Monteiro
      Abstract: IntroductionAutism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by deficits in communication and social interaction, restricted interests, repetitive behaviors, and sensory alterations, with auditory hypersensitivity being one of the most commonly reported sensory–perceptual abnormalities. Several candidate genes for involvement in this disorder have emerged from patient studies, including SHANK3, a gene that encodes a protein (SHANK3) in the postsynaptic density of excitatory synapses. Previous work has shown that mutant mice carrying a human ASD mutation in the Shank3 gene (InsG3680) exhibit repetitive behaviors and social interaction deficits, indicating important construct and face validity for this genotype as an animal model of ASD.MethodsTo further address whether these mice also present auditory sensory–perceptual alterations, we developed a novel behavioral test in which mice can choose between different soundscapes.ResultsOur results reveal that, in comparison to wild-type mice, Shank3 mutants display a strong behavioral preference toward silent regions of the arena.DiscussionThese data suggest that Shank3- mutant mice might express an auditory hypersensitivity phenotype, further adding to the face validity of this genotype as an animal model of ASD.
      PubDate: 2023-08-24T00:00:00Z
  • Quantifying conditioned place preference: a review of current analyses and
           a proposal for a novel approach

    • Authors: Justin R. Yates
      Abstract: Conditioned place preference (CPP) is used to measure the conditioned rewarding effects of a stimulus, including food, drugs, and social interaction. Because various analytic approaches can be used to quantify CPP, this can make direct comparisons across studies difficult. Common methods for analyzing CPP involve comparing the time spent in the CS+ compartment (e.g., compartment paired with drug) at posttest to the time spent in the CS+ compartment at pretest or to the CS– compartment (e.g., compartment paired with saline) at posttest. Researchers can analyze the time spent in the compartment(s), or they can calculate a difference score [(CS+post – CS+pre) or (CS+post – CS–post)] or a preference ratio (e.g., CS+post/(CS+post + CS–post)). While each analysis yields results that are, overall, highly correlated, there are situations in which different analyses can lead to discrepant interpretations. The current paper discusses some of the limitations associated with current analytic approaches and proposes a novel method for quantifying CPP, the adjusted CPP score, which can help resolve the limitations associated with current approaches. The adjusted CPP score is applied to both hypothetical and previously published data. Another major topic covered in this paper is methodologies for determining if individual subjects have met criteria for CPP. The paper concludes by highlighting ways in which researchers can increase transparency and replicability in CPP studies.
      PubDate: 2023-08-24T00:00:00Z
  • Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) over the orbitofrontal
           cortex reduces delay discounting

    • Authors: Andrea Stefano Moro, Daniele Saccenti, Alessandra Vergallito, Simona Scaini, Antonio Malgaroli, Mattia Ferro, Jacopo Lamanna
      Abstract: Delay discounting (DD) is a quantifiable psychological phenomenon that regulates decision-making. Nevertheless, the neural substrates of DD and its relationship with other cognitive domains are not well understood. The orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) is a potential candidate for supporting the expression of DD, but due to its wide involvement in several psychological functions and neural networks, its central role remains elusive. In this study, healthy subjects underwent transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) while performing an intertemporal choice task for the quantification of DD and a working memory task. To selectively engage the OFC, two electrode configurations have been tested, namely, anodal Fp1–cathodal Fp2 and cathodal Fp1–anodal Fp2. Our results show that stimulation of the OFC reduces DD, independently from electrode configuration. In addition, no relationship was found between DD measures and either working memory performance or baseline impulsivity assessed through established tests. Our work will direct future investigations aimed at unveiling the specific neural mechanisms underlying the involvement of the OFC in DD, and at testing the efficacy of OFC tDCS in reducing DD in psychological conditions where this phenomenon has been strongly implicated, such as addiction and eating disorders.
      PubDate: 2023-08-24T00:00:00Z
  • The tailless gecko gets the worm: prey type alters the effects of caudal
           autotomy on prey capture and subjugation kinematics

    • Authors: Marina F. Vollin, Timothy E. Higham
      Abstract: Prey capture and subjugation are complex behaviors affected by many factors including physiological and behavioral traits of both the predator and the prey. The western banded gecko (Coleonyx variegatus) is a small generalist predator that consumes both evasive prey items, such as spiders, wasps, and orthopterans, and non-evasive prey items, including larvae, pupae, and isopterans. When consuming certain prey (e.g., scorpions), banded geckos will capture and then rapidly oscillate, or shake, their head and anterior part of their body. Banded geckos also have large, active tails that can account for over 20% of their body weight and can be voluntarily severed through the process of caudal autotomy. However, how autotomy influences prey capture behavior in geckos is poorly understood. Using high-speed 3D videography, we studied the effects of both prey type (mealworms and crickets) and tail autotomy on prey capture and subjugation performance in banded geckos. Performance metrics included maximum velocity and distance of prey capture, as well as velocity and frequency of post-capture shaking. Maximum velocity and distance of prey capture were lower for mealworms than crickets regardless of tail state. However, after autotomy, maximum velocity increased for strikes on mealworms but significantly decreased for crickets. After capture, geckos always shook mealworms, but never crickets. The frequency of shaking mealworms decreased after autotomy and additional qualitative differences were observed. Our results highlight the complex and interactive effects of prey type and caudal autotomy on prey capture biomechanics.
      PubDate: 2023-08-23T00:00:00Z
  • Animal-friendly behavioral testing in field studies: examples from ground

    • Authors: Scott Nunes
      Abstract: Field studies of behavior provide insight into the expression of behavior in its natural ecological context and can serve as an important complement to behavioral studies conducted in the lab under controlled conditions. In addition to naturalistic observations, behavioral testing can be an important component of field studies of behavior. This mini review evaluates a sample of behavioral testing methods in field studies to identify ways in which behavioral testing can be animal-friendly and generate ethologically relevant data. Specific examples, primarily from studies of ground squirrels, are presented to illustrate ways in which principles of animal-friendly behavioral testing can be applied to and guide testing methods. Tests conducted with animals in their natural habitat and that elicit naturally occurring behavioral responses can minimize stress and disturbance for animals, as well as disruption of the larger ecosystem, and can have high ethological validity. When animals are trapped or handled as part of a study, behavioral testing can be incorporated into handling procedures to reduce overall disturbance. When behavior is evaluated in a testing arena, the arena can be designed to resemble natural conditions to increase the ethological relevance of the test. Efforts to minimize time spent in testing arenas can also reduce disturbance to animals. Adapting a behavioral test to a species or habitat conditions can facilitate reduced disruption to subjects and increased ethological relevance of the test.
      PubDate: 2023-08-23T00:00:00Z
  • The systemic effects of the enriched environment on the conditioned fear

    • Authors: Grigory A. Grigoryan
      Abstract: In this review, a hypothesis is proposed to explain the beneficial effect of an enriched environment (EE) on the conditioned fear reaction (CFR) from the perspective of a functional system of behavioral control. According to the hypothesis, the EE affects all behavioral act components, including the processing of sensory information, memory, motivational and reinforcing systems, and motor activities, which weakens the CFR. Animals raised in the EE have effects that are comparable to those of context (CTX) and CS pre-exposures at latent inhibition. An abundance of stimuli in the EE and constant contact with them provide the formation of CS-noUS and CTX-noUS connections that later, during CFR learning, slow down and diminish fear. The EE also contributes to faster processing of information and habituation to it. As a result, many stimuli in the context lose their significance, and subjects simply ignore them. And finally, the EE affects the motivational and reinforcing brain mechanisms, induces an impairment of search activity, and worsens memory consolidation, which leads to a reduction of CFR.
      PubDate: 2023-08-22T00:00:00Z
  • Attention, attention! Posttraumatic stress disorder is associated with
           altered attention-related brain function

    • Authors: Samantha L. Ely, Clara G. Zundel, Leah C. Gowatch, Julia M. Evanski, Amanpreet Bhogal, Carmen Carpenter, MacKenna Shampine, Hilary Marusak
      Abstract: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating condition characterized by altered arousal, mood, and cognition. Studies report attentional alterations such as threat bias in individuals with PTSD, though this work has largely been conducted within emotionally-charged contexts (e.g., threatening stimuli). Emerging behavioral evidence suggests that PTSD-related attention deficits exist even in the absence of threatening cues or anxiety triggers. However, the role and functioning of attention brain circuits as they relate to PTSD remains underexplored. In this mini review, we highlight recent work using non-emotional stimuli to investigate the neurobiology of attention and disruptions to attention-related brain function among individuals with PTSD. We then discuss gaps in the current literature, including questions pertaining to the neural circuitry of attentional alterations in PTSD, as well as the contributions that trauma exposure, PTSD symptoms, comorbidities, and pre-existing vulnerabilities may have in this relationship. Finally, we suggest future directions for this emerging area of research, which may further inform knowledge surrounding the neurobiological underpinnings of PTSD and potential treatments.
      PubDate: 2023-08-21T00:00:00Z
  • Editorial: Towards a mechanistic understanding of depression, anxiety, and
           their comorbidity: perspectives from cognitive neuroscience

    • Authors: Masaru Tanaka, Chong Chen
      PubDate: 2023-08-15T00:00:00Z
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