Sex-Specific Impairment of Spatial Memory following a Reminder of Predator Stress
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is characterized by cognitive impairments, which may result from intrusive, traumatic memories. One factor potentially influencing the development and maintenance of intrusive memories is prefrontal cortex development, a phenomenon associated with age. The present studies examined how age influences the effects of emotional memories on rat physiology and behavior. Adolescent and adult rats were exposed to predator stress and given water maze training five weeks later. Prior to memory testing, the rats were given a reminder of the predator stress. The results indicated that a reminder of the stress experience impaired long-term spatial memory in the female, adolescent rats only. These findings may have implications for the development of intrusive memories and the increased risk that females have for PTSD.