Effects of stressors in adolescence on learning and memory in rodent models

Horm Behav. 2013 Jul;64(2):364-79. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2012.09.012.


This article is part of a Special Issue "Puberty and Adolescence". Learning and memory is affected by a myriad of factors, including exposure to stressors and the corresponding rise in circulating glucocorticoids. Nevertheless, the effects of stressors depend on the sex, species, the type of stressor used, the duration of exposure, as well as the developmental time-point in which stressors are experienced. Effects of stress in adolescence, however, have received less attention than other developmental periods. In adolescence, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and brain regions involved in learning and memory, which also richly express corticosteroid receptors, are continuing to develop, and thus the effects of stress exposures would be expected to differ from those in adulthood. We conclude from a review of the available literature in animal models that hippocampal function is particularly sensitive to adolescent stressors, and the effects tend to be most evident several weeks after the exposure, suggesting stressors alter the developmental trajectory of the hippocampus.

Keywords: Amygdala; Animal models; Cognition; Fear conditioning; Hippocampus; Medial prefrontal cortex; Puberty; Sex differences; Social stressors; Spatial.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Models, Animal
  • Rodentia* / physiology
  • Rodentia* / psychology
  • Sexual Maturation / physiology*
  • Social Isolation / psychology
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*