Section 10
Chapter 9,647

Thresholds of electrically induced defence reaction of the rat: short- and long-term adaptation mechanisms

Sudré, E.C.; de Barros, M.R.; Sudré, G.N.; Schenberg, L.C.

Behavioural Brain Research 58(1-2): 141-154


ISSN/ISBN: 0166-4328
PMID: 8136042
DOI: 10.1016/0166-4328(93)90099-c
Accession: 009646378

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The thresholds of electrically induced defence reaction of the rat were studied through the logistic fitting of the response output. When stepwise increasing stimuli were applied at the dorsal midbrain, hierarchically organized mean thresholds, spaced 10 microA apart, were observed for immobility, running and jumping defensive behaviours. The parallel threshold functions of these responses, ranked in the above order, denote that they have distinct output probabilities when induced with sequential stepwise increasing stimuli. In contrast, when single daily stimuli were given in a random order, virtually superimposed threshold functions were obtained for these defensive behaviours. In this case, since the same output probabilities would be expected for immobility, running and jumping behaviours, the defence system seems to operate in a state of maximum entropy. The above data suggest that the dorsal midbrain, including the deep collicular layers and the periaqueductal gray, may encode hierarchical or non-hierarchical defensive patterns which, respectively, mimic either the attentive behaviour of the prey watching the approaching predator or its chaotic behaviour when cornered by a sudden attack. On the other hand, whereas quite stable thresholds were observed for the somatic defensive responses when 5 stimulation sessions were repeated over 15 days, the defecation and micturition output underwent a marked and progressive lessening. Since these autonomic responses have long been considered as reliable indexes of fear, their attenuation throughout the repeated sessions could express the rat adaptation to fear by the recurrence of the aversive experience. Taken together, these data suggest that while short-term neuronal adaptation could be responsible for the hierarchical threshold structure of the short interval stepwise stimulation, long-term neuronal adaptation could underlie the selective decrease of defecation and micturition responses over repeated sessions of intracranial stimulation.

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