The bed nucleus of the stria terminalis is critically involved in enhancing associative learning after stressful experience

Behav Neurosci. 2005 Dec;119(6):1459-66. doi: 10.1037/0735-7044.119.6.1459.


Exposure to an acute stressful event enhances trace eyeblink conditioning in male rats, even when rats begin training days after the stressor (Shors, 2001). The authors examined whether the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST), an area involved in stress and anxiety, is critically involved in this effect and, if so, when. The authors found that excitotoxic lesions to the BNST prevented the enhanced conditioning after stressor exposure. In addition, temporary inactivation of the BNST during the stressor did not alter enhanced responding, whereas inactivation during training prevented the enhancement. These data indicate that stressful experience induces persistent changes in the BNST that are necessary for enhancing learning well after the stressful event has ceased.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Association Learning / drug effects
  • Association Learning / physiology*
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Corticosterone / metabolism
  • Male
  • Muscimol
  • Radioimmunoassay / methods
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Septal Nuclei / drug effects
  • Septal Nuclei / physiopathology*
  • Stress, Physiological / physiopathology*
  • Time Factors


  • Muscimol
  • Corticosterone