The dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN) and its serotonergic terminal regions have been suggested to be part of the neural substrate by which exposure to uncontrollable stressors produces poor escape responding and enhanced conditioned fear expression. Such stressor exposure is thought to selectively activate DRN serotonergic neurons in such a way as to render them transiently sensitized to further input. As a result of this sensitized state, behavioral testing procedures are thought to cause excess serotonergic activity in brain regions that control these behaviors. The present studies were conducted to investigate activity in the DRN following exposure to escapable and yoked, inescapable tailshock. Neural activity was characterized using immunohistochemistry to detect the immediate early gene product Fos in serotonin-immunoreactive cells in the DRN. Inescapable tailshock led to greater serotonergic neural activity than did escapable tailshock, supporting the hypothesis that uncontrollable stressors preferentially activate serotonergic neurons in the DRN.
Copyright 1999 Elsevier Science B.V.