Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 237, Issue 1, pp 181–190 | Cite as

The impact of maternal separation and isolation stress during stress hyporesponsive period on fear retention and extinction recall memory from 5-week- to 1-year-old rats

  • Pradeep Kumar Mishra
  • Bindu M. Kutty
  • T. R. LaxmiEmail author
Research Article


The purpose of the present study was to determine whether age would disrupt fear retention and extinction memory in rats pre-exposed to maternal separation and isolation stress; these rats are called MS rats. MS stress was induced by exposing rat pups into maternal separation followed by isolation stress from peer groups (MS) daily/6 h during stress hyporesponsive period, while controls rats that were undisturbed during this period are called NMS rats. 5, 8, 15 and 52 weeks later, these animals were exposed to classical fear conditioning test by pairing auditory stimulus (conditioned stimulus, CS+) with electric footshock. 24 h later, conditioned freezing response to CS+ was measured during fear retention, extinction and extinction recall trials. The normal ageing per se did not affect the formation of fear memory, retention and fear extinction memory. MS stress, on the other hand, disrupted fear memory at young adulthood age exhibiting increased freezing response to CS+ during retention test and reduced during fear extinction memory test when compared to NMS groups. On the other hand, rats at adolescence age exhibited reduced freezing during fear retention and enhanced freezing response to CS+ during extinction recall test. However, MS-induced changes in freezing response during fear retention and extinction tests were not seen in adulthood and 1-year-old age groups. These data demonstrate the young adulthood age is highly vulnerable to fear memory and extinction processes. The differences in freezing response to CS+ during fear conditioning from adolescence to old age, thus, appear to be related to the maturation of the limbic circuit.


Maternal separation stress and isolation stress Stress hyporesponsive period 5 week 8 week 15 week 1 year Fear retention Fear extinction memory 



This study was funded by ICMR New Delhi and CSIR New Delhi.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that no competing interests exist.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pradeep Kumar Mishra
    • 1
  • Bindu M. Kutty
    • 1
  • T. R. Laxmi
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of NeurophysiologyNational Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS)BengaluruIndia

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