Age-related modifications of contextual information processing in rats: Role of emotional reactivity, arousal and testing procedure

Valérie Doyère, Pascale Gisquet-Verrier, Benedetta De Marsanich, Martine Ammassari-Teule

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two experiments were conducted to examine contextual information processing in adult (7 months) and aged (22 months) Wistar rats. In Experiment 1, rats were tested for contextual fear conditioning when exposed to six series, one per day, of ten pairings of a tone (CS) with a foot-shock (US) delivered in one of a two-compartment apparatus. Conditioned fear was estimated by recording: (1) the amount of freezing in the shock compartment; and (2) the time spent avoiding the shock compartment. Results show that, after only one series of ten CS-US pairings, all rats showed freezing in the shock compartment, with aged rats exhibiting the stronger response. Adult rats also avoided the shock compartment during place preference tests in contrast to aged rats, that spent an equivalent time - with an intense freezing reaction - in both the shock and the safe compartments. After 60 CS- US pairings, contextual freezing in the shock compartment decreased in both groups, but, contrary to adults, aged rats were still not avoiding that compartment. In Experiment 2, radial maze performance was studied under distinct quantitative extra-maze cueing conditions (poor versus rich) and successive context shifts. Compared to adults, aged rats were impaired when trained initially under poor cueing conditions. No group difference was evident when rats were transferred to a context involving more cues (rich cueing conditions), but age-related impairments re-emerged when rats were returned to the original poor cueing conditions. Thus, the fact that performance deficits in a given task were restricted to certain testing procedures suggests that aging affects more the utilization than the processing of contextual information. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-165
Number of pages13
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1 2000


  • Aging
  • Context
  • Emotion
  • Fear conditioning
  • Spatial learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Age-related modifications of contextual information processing in rats: Role of emotional reactivity, arousal and testing procedure'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this