Choi and LeDoux (2003) had rodents learn to perform an instrumental shuttling response in the presence of a CS to avoid an imminent electric shock. A specific subset of ‘non-learners’ were unable to perform this avoidance response because of high inhibitors levels of conditioned fear responses (i.e., freezing). However, Pictilisib cost after lesions to the CE, these animals were capable of adopting the avoidance strategy, indicating that excessive fear expression can impair the capacity to perform
actions that promote safety and reduce fear. This implies that higher levels of trait anxiety or acute exposure to stress may impair the capacity to acquire or retain avoidance strategies when confronted with threat. Of the limited studies that have directly assessed the effects of stress or stress hormones on avoidance learning, most have examined passive (i.e., inhibitory) avoidance learning. In contrast to active avoidance processes that requires the use of an instrumental response to prevent or terminate an aversive outcome, passive avoidance requires the suppression
of an innate behavior in order to successfully avoid an aversive outcome. A common way to test passive avoidance is to measure the latency with which an animal crosses from a naturally preferred Selleckchem Obeticholic Acid darkened chamber that has been paired with shock to a less preferred bright chamber that the animal has learned to associate with safety. Passive avoidance involves the amygdala as well as the hippocampus due to the contextual nature of the task (Ogren and Stiedl, 2010). As with other forms of aversive learning, passive avoidance is dependent on stress hormones to facilitate learning and consolidation.
For example, blocking noradrenaline systemically or within the LA or B after avoidance training disrupts its consolidation as measured by weaker subsequent retention (Ferry et al., 1999, Gallagher et al., 1977, Liang et al., 1986 and Quirarte et al., 1997). In contrast, enhancing noradrenaline after avoidance training enhances its retention (McGaugh et al., 2002 and McIntyre heptaminol et al., 2002). Furthermore, infusion of glucocorticoid agonists into the LA directly after training on a fear avoidance and escape task enhances subsequent retention, while GR antagonists infused prior to training impaired retention. Notably, infusions at either time point into the CE had no effect on memory retrieval (Roozendaal and McGaugh, 1997). The effect of acute stress on passive avoidance was recently tested in rodents. Before training, animals were classified into high, medium and low anxiety based on the elevated plus-maze test; subsequently, half of the mice in each group then underwent an acute stress manipulation. Stress altered avoidance performance in the high anxiety group only.