Different types of avoidance behavior in rats produce dissociable post-training changes in sleep

Physiol Behav. 2011 Feb 1;102(2):170-4. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2010.10.024. Epub 2010 Nov 4.


Avoidance learning affects post-training sleep, and post-training sleep deprivation impairs performance. However, not all rats learn to make avoidance responses, and some rats fail to escape; a definitive behavior of learned helplessness, a model of depression. This study investigated the changes in sleep associated with different behaviors adopted following avoidance training. Rats (n=53) were trained for 100 trials over 2 days (50 trials/day), followed by 23-24 h of post-training polysomnography, then re-tested (25 trials). At re-test, rats were categorized into: 1) Active Avoiders (AA; n=22), 2), Non-learning (NL; n=21), or 3) Escape Failures (EF; n=10). AA rats increased avoidances over days, whereas the NL and EF groups did not. EF rats increased escape failures over days, whereas the NL and AA rats did not. EF rats had increased rapid eye movement (REM) sleep in the first 4h on training day 1. They also had increased non-REM sleep in the first 4h and last 4h on both training days. AA rats had increased REM sleep 13-20 h post-training. The type of behavioral strategy adopted throughout training is associated with a unique pattern of changes in post-training sleep. Training-dependent changes in post-acquisition sleep may reflect distinct processes involved in the consolidation of these different memory traces.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Avoidance Learning / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology
  • Electroencephalography / methods
  • Electromyography / methods
  • Escape Reaction / classification
  • Escape Reaction / physiology*
  • Learning Disabilities / classification
  • Learning Disabilities / etiology*
  • Male
  • Polysomnography / methods
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Deprivation / physiopathology