Active place avoidance is no more stressful than unreinforced exploration of a familiar environment

Edith Lesburguères, Fraser T. Sparks, Kally C. O'Reilly, André A. Fenton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Training in the active place avoidance task changes hippocampus synaptic function, the dynamics of hippocampus local field potentials, place cell discharge, and active place avoidance memory is maintained by persistent PKMζ activity. The extent to which these changes reflect memory processes and/or stress responses is unknown. We designed a study to assess stress within the active place avoidance task by measuring serum corticosterone (CORT) at different stages of training. CORT levels did not differ between trained mice that learned to avoid the location of the mild foot shock, and untrained no-shock controls exposed to the same environment for the same amount of time. Yoked mice, that received unavoidable shocks in the same time sequence as the trained mice, had significantly higher CORT levels than mice in the trained and no-shock groups after the first trial. This increase in CORT disappeared by the fourth trial the following day, and levels of CORT for all groups matched that of home cage controls. The data demonstrate that place avoidance training is no more stressful than experiencing a familiar environment. We conclude that changes in neural function as a result of active place avoidance training are likely to reflect learning and memory processes rather than stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1481-1485
Number of pages5
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • learning
  • memory
  • navigation
  • spatial cognition
  • stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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