Effects of stressor predictability and controllability on sleep, temperature, and fear behavior in mice

Sleep. 2011 Jun 1;34(6):759-71. doi: 10.5665/SLEEP.1044.


Study objectives: Predictability and controllability are important factors in the persisting effects of stress. We trained mice with signaled, escapable shock (SES) and with signaled, inescapable shock (SIS) to determine whether shock predictability can be a significant factor in the effects of stress on sleep.

Design: Male BALB/cJ mice were implanted with transmitters for recording EEG, activity, and temperature via telemetry. After recovery from surgery, baseline sleep recordings were obtained for 2 days. The mice were then randomly assigned to SES (n = 9) and yoked SIS (n = 9) conditions. The mice were presented cues (90 dB, 2 kHz tones) that started 5.0 sec prior to and co-terminated with footshocks (0.5 mA; 5.0 sec maximum duration). SES mice always received shock but could terminate it by moving to the non-occupied chamber in a shuttlebox. SIS mice received identical tones and shocks, but could not alter shock duration. Twenty cue-shock pairings (1.0-min interstimulus intervals) were presented on 2 days (ST1 and ST2). Seven days after ST2, SES and SIS mice, in their home cages, were presented with cues identical to those presented during ST1 and ST2.

Setting: NA.

Patients or participants: NA.

Interventions: NA.

Measurements and results: On each training and test day, EEG, activity and temperature were recorded for 20 hours. Freezing was scored in response to the cue alone. Compared to SIS mice, SES mice showed significantly increased REM after ST1 and ST2. Compared to SES mice, SIS mice showed significantly increased NREM after ST1 and ST2. Both groups showed reduced REM in response to cue presentation alone. Both groups showed similar stress-induced increases in temperature and freezing in response to the cue alone.

Conclusions: These findings indicate that predictability (modeled by signaled shock) can play a significant role in the effects of stress on sleep.

Keywords: Stress; mice; rapid eye movement sleep (REM); sleep; stressor controllability; stressor predictability; tone-shock.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Temperature / physiology*
  • Cues*
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electroencephalography
  • Escape Reaction / physiology*
  • Fear / psychology*
  • Immobilization
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Stress, Psychological / complications
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology