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EFFECTS OF MALNUTRITION AND ENVIRONMENT ON THE ACQUISITION AND EXTICTION OF AVOIDANCE BEHAVIOR IN RATS

Luiz Marcellino de Oliveira, Sebastião de Sousa Almeida

Resumo

Twelve newborn rats were fed by mothers maintained on protein-deficient diet (12% casein, M) during lactation, and 12 rats fed by mothers maintained on a diet containing 25% casein were used as controls (C). After weaning, all animals were standard lab ration. Half of each group was housed individually (MI and CI), while the other half was allowed to live in pairs (MP and CP). When adult, all animals were trained to avoid footshocks by jumping onto a platform. Trainiing sessions consisted of 40 trials starting with a 20 sec light stimulus (CS) and followed by a 2 sec, 0.6 mA shock (US) with an average interval of 54 sec. When all animals displayed consistent avoidance behavior, the extinction phase was initiated. The produce was the same as for the training session except that shock generator was disconnected. Extinction continued until each animal showed a 50% reduction in avoidance performance. During acquisition, MI learned faster than CI and CI showed greater avoidance performance than CP, but no differences were observed between MP and CP. During extinction, group M responded more persistently than group C. The present acquisition results may explain the contradictory data reported in the literature with respect to the effects of malnutrition on avoidance performance, since environmental stimulation was shown to reduce the effects of early malnutrition. Individually housed animals showed greater avoidance performance during both phases.

Keywords: Protein malnutrition, avoidance response, acquisition, extinction, environmental stimulation. 


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18542/rebac.v10i2.3470