Date Thesis Awarded
Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only
Bachelors of Science (BS)
Robert C. Barnet
Joshua A. Burk
Deborah C. Bebout
This study utilized a rodent model of anxiety in which the defensive behavior of rats provides a measure of operational anxiety known as "Light-Enhanced Startle" (LES; Walker & Davis, 1997). The focus of the study was to explore age-dependent and sex-dependent vulnerabilities to the anxiety-producing effects of nicotine in rats. An additional goal was to establish the LES paradigm for use in adolescent animals. The effect of acute first-time exposure to nicotine on the magnitude of light-enhanced startle in adolescent versus adult rats was measured. Adolescent and adult animals did not have similar dose-response patterns revealing age-dependent differences in nicotine's effect on anxiety. Additionally, these different dose-response patterns depended on sex. In general, nicotine was anxiogenic in most conditions and females showed stronger anxiogenic responses to nicotine than males. Collectively, outcomes reveal age-dependent vulnerabilities to the anxiety-producing effects of nicotine that depend on drug dose and sex, and establish the light-enhanced startle paradigm for use as an animal model of anxiety expression in adolescence, which is viewed as a critical developmental period. Adolescence as a unique period of vulnerability to the effects of stress and advantages of the LES paradigm as an experimental model of anxiety are also discussed.
Phillips, Oliver W., "Adolescence as a Unique Period of Vulnerability to Environmental Stressors: Age-Dependent and Sex-Dependent effects of Nicotine Exposure on Anxiety Utilizing The Light-Enhanced Startle Paradigm" (2013). Undergraduate Honors Theses. William & Mary. Paper 597.
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