Effects of exposure to stressors of varying predictability on adrenal function in rats

Behav Neurosci. 1995 Aug;109(4):767-76. doi: 10.1037//0735-7044.109.4.767.


For 5 days, rats were exposed to shocks that were signalled by a light 0, 33, 66, or 100% of the time. Basal hormone levels and responses to a light-shock pair were measured daily. Greater predictability was associated with higher basal plasma corticosterone and norepinephrine levels indicative of chronic stress. Habituation of the corticosterone response was also less in the groups with greater predictability. However, predictability did not affect plasma prolactin or epinephrine responses. Because the endocrine systems responded differently, it is unlikely that the changes were due to a unitary process. Greater predictability appeared to be more stressful in this paradigm. Both associative and nonassociative factors have major roles in determining the hormonal responses to repeated presentation of stressors.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Glands / innervation*
  • Animals
  • Arousal / physiology*
  • Association Learning / physiology
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology*
  • Corticosterone / blood
  • Epinephrine / blood
  • Fear / physiology*
  • Male
  • Norepinephrine / blood
  • Prolactin / blood
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / physiology


  • Prolactin
  • Corticosterone
  • Norepinephrine
  • Epinephrine