Dorsal premammillary nucleus differentially modulates defensive behaviors induced by different threat stimuli in rats

Neurosci Lett. 2003 Jul 24;345(3):145-8. doi: 10.1016/s0304-3940(03)00415-4.


Lesions of the dorsal premammillary nucleus (PMd) have been reported to produce dramatic reductions in responsivity of rats to a live cat. Such lesions provide a means of analyzing the potentially differential neural systems involved in different defensive behaviors, and the relationship between these systems and concepts such as anxiety. Rats with bilateral electrolytic lesions of the PMd were run in an elevated plus maze (EPM), exposed first to cat odor and then to a live cat, and assessed for postshock freezing and locomotion. PMd lesions produced a dramatic reduction in freezing, avoidance, and stretch attend to the cat odor stimulus, and reduction in freezing, with greater activity, and enhanced stretch approach to cat exposure. However, PMd lesions had minimal effects in the EPM, and postshock freezing scores were unchanged. These results confirm earlier findings of reduced defensiveness of PMd-lesioned rats to a cat, extending the pattern of reduced defensiveness to cat odor stimuli as well, but also suggest that such lesions have few effects on nonolfactory threat stimuli.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aggression*
  • Animals
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Avoidance Learning
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Cats
  • Conditioning, Psychological / physiology
  • Fear / physiology
  • Locomotion / physiology
  • Male
  • Mammillary Bodies / anatomy & histology
  • Mammillary Bodies / physiology*
  • Maze Learning
  • Odorants
  • Posture / physiology
  • Predatory Behavior / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Reaction Time