Recently we have shown that adult rats exposed to chronic stress during adolescence increase foraging performance in high-threat conditions by 43% compared to rats reared without stress. Our findings suggest that stress during adolescence can prepare rats to better function under future threat, which supports hypotheses describing an adaptive role for the long-term consequences of early stress (e.g. the thrifty phenotype and maternal mismatch hypotheses). These hypotheses often predict that early stress will impair performance in low-threat conditions later in life. However, we did not find any difference in performance under low-threat conditions between adolescent-stressed and unstressed adult animals. To understand why stress during adolescence may affect performance in high-threat but not in low-threat conditions, we discuss our findings in the framework of the Yerkes-Dodson law, a key precept of psychology that has been used for over a century to describe how stress affects performance.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)