That the fear and stress of life-threatening experiences can leave an indelible trace on the brain is most clearly exemplified by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Many researchers studying the animal model of PTSD have adopted utilizing exposure to a predator as a life- threatening psychological stressor, to emulate the experience in humans, and the resulting body of literature has demonstrated numerous long-lasting neurological effects paralleling those in PTSD patients. Even though much more extreme, predator-induced fear and stress in animals in the wild was, until the 1990s, not thought to have any lasting effects, whereas recent experiments have demonstrated that the effects on free-living animals are sufficiently longlasting to even affect reproduction, though the lasting neurological effects remain unexplored. We suggest neuroscientists and ecologists both have much to gain from collaborating in studying the neurological effects of predator-induced fear and stress in animals in the wild. We outline the approaches taken in the lab that appear most readily translatable to the field, and detail the advantages that studying animals in the wild can offer researchers investigating the "predator model of PTSD".
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Behavioral Neuroscience