The Roman High- and Low-Avoidance rat strains differ in fear-potentiated startle and classical aversive conditioning

Psicothema. 2009 Feb;21(1):27-32.


The Swiss sublines of Roman High-(RHA/Verh) and Low-(RLA/Verh) Avoidance rats have been genetically selected (and outbred) since 1972 because of their good versus extremely poor acquisition of two-way, active avoidance. Inbred strains (RHA-I and RLA-I), derived from those two lines, have been maintained at our laboratory since 1997. The RLA line/strain shows increased stress-induced endocrine responses and enhanced anxiety/fearfulness in a variety of unconditioned behavioural variables and tests. Thus far, however, the Roman rat strains have not been compared in procedures involving classical fear conditioning to cues or contexts. Therefore, the present work was aimed at comparing RHA-I and RLA-I rats in 1) two different procedures of fear-potentiated startle and 2) in a classical fear conditioning (i.e., conditioned freezing) paradigm. The results indicate that, compared to RHA-I rats, RLA-I animals display higher levels of conditioned fear (as measured either by startle responses or freezing behavior) across those different tasks.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Avoidance Learning / physiology*
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology*
  • Exploratory Behavior / physiology
  • Fear / physiology*
  • Female
  • Freezing Reaction, Cataleptic / physiology*
  • Genetics, Behavioral
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains / genetics
  • Rats, Inbred Strains / psychology*
  • Reflex, Startle / physiology*
  • Single-Blind Method