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Student research published

Students in Phillip Zoladz, Ph.D.’s, laboratory recently published a manuscript based on work that was completed over the past couple of years at ONU. The research was funded by an undergraduate research grant from Psi Chi that was awarded to Hanna Burke, BS ’11.

Other members of the research team are Cristina Robinson, BS ’13, Bethany Wentz, BS ’12, Jerel McKay, BS ’12, Kyle Dexter, a junior in psychology, Julia Pisansky, BS ’12, Jeffery Talbot, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmacology and Phillip Zoladz, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology.

Researchers have speculated that people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) exhibit cognitive impairments because they experience intrusive, flashback memories of their trauma which transiently interfere with their ongoing cognitive processing. Since this idea is unethical to test in people with the disorder, researchers developed a rodent model to examine the influence of a reminder of a stressful experience on long-term memory. In the study, rats were stressed by being exposed to a cat. Several weeks later, they tested to determine if a reminder of the cat exposure would negatively influence rodent spatial memory. We found that the cat exposure reminder impaired long-term memory in female, but not male, rats. These findings lend insight into why females are more susceptible to developing PTSD following trauma. Specifically, the researchers hypothesize that females may form a stronger memory of trauma, which renders them more susceptible to PTSD onset and to the deleterious effects of intrusive memories on cognitive performance.

The article is available online.

Sex-specific impairment of spatial memory in rats following a reminder of predator stress
Burke, H.M., Robinson, C.M., Wentz, B., McKay, J., Dexter, K.W., Pisansky, J.M., Talbot, J.N., & Zoladz, P.R. (in press). Sex-specific impairment of spatial memory following a reminder of predator stress. Stress.