Rats selectively bred for amygdala excitability, realized by fast or slow kindling epileptogenesis, were previously reported to exhibit differential levels of anxiety. Although the Slow kindling rats generally appeared more anxious in several behavioral tests, under certain test conditions the Fast kindling rats displayed greater anxiety or stressor reactivity. The present investigation confirmed that in a test of anxiety comprising suppression of consumption of a palatable snack in an unfamiliar environment, the Slow kindling rats exhibited greater anxiety and that this effect was attenuated by diazepam. Likewise, the acoustic startle response was greater in the Slow kindling rats. However, the fear-potentiated startle response was more pronounced in Fast kindling rats, particularly among females, irrespective of whether the test parameters elicited moderate or high startle amplitudes. The elevated startle in the Slow rats, and the fear potentiated startle in the Fast rats, were attenuated by diazepam. These data indicate the need to differentiate subtypes of anxiety in animal models, and raise the issue that anxiety elicited by specific environmental triggers may interact with genetically determined trait characteristics.
- Fear-potentiated startle
- Psychogenic stressor