Effects of Single Prolonged Stress on Set Shifting Errors
Solan, Elizabeth A.
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Single prolonged stress (SPS) is an animal model used to mimic Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), where rats sequentially undergo three different stressors. SPS is known to cause changes similar to PTSD in the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex (PFC). Set shifting is a cognitive task requiring switching from one previously reinforced strategy to a new strategy, which involves the mPFC to successfully adjust to a set shift. An automated set shift was completed, with rats tested on lever in operant boxes. It was expected that since SPS diminishes mPFC function, rats that underwent SPS would be less successful than controls at set shifting. Rats with SPS performed similarly to controls on initial acquisition of the rules, indicating SPS did not cause any acquisition impairments. However, when it came to the set shift, SPS rats made significantly more never reinforced errors. The never reinforced errors arc those that do not follow the initial rule learned or the new rule of the set shift. This outcome suggests SPS rats learn the new strategy more slowly, by trying a different strategy that they have not learned before that is incorrect.