Effects of Stress on Amygdala Development and Behavior in Adolescent Rats
Fluorescent double-labeled images showing activated cyclic adenylate cyclase response element binding protein (red) in the nucleus of immature appearing neurons that express class III beta tubulin, or TUJ1 (green).
Adolescence is a time of rapid social, emotional, and cognitive growth, and also a time when symptoms of mood and anxiety disorders emerge. The amygdala is a central structure involved in emotional processing and learning. Recent evidence indicates that the amygdala structure and function is influenced by stress and glucocorticoids, possibly contributing to the amygdala’s well-known dysregulation in mood and anxiety disorders.
We are studying how stressful experiences in adolescence influence normal social interactions and amygdala development. Our preliminary studies involve giving a repeated unpredictable stress to adolescent rats, and examining measures of cell proliferation in the amygdala. We are correlating change in cell proliferation during adolescence with immediate and long-term changes in social-emotional function. We hypothesize that changes in amygdala cell proliferation in adolescence have long term consequences for social and emotional behaviors.« back to all projects