Document Type

Honors Paper


Ruth Grahn

Publication Date



Childhood neglect influences development and increases the risk for and severity of mental illness. Previous study has shown that early life stress (ELS) alters stress circuitry, elevates basal stress hormone, and impairs regulation of the HPA. In this study, we seek to understand the impacts of decreased quality of care and trauma on the cognitive and neural development of rats at adolescence. We used a 1-week limited bedding protocol to induce fragmented care in dams and a 10-minute exposure to fox odor to induce stress in offspring later. Memory function and patterns of brain activity following stressor exposure were assessed in order to characterize the impact of early life stress in male and female rats. The predator odor groups showed reduction in mobility and exploration time during and one week after exposure. The predator odor-exposed group without early life stress showed better memory performance. Female rats in the ELS groups are more susceptible to the fox odor and were less able to recognize novel objects, compared to the male counterparts. These findings also implied an interaction between ELS and predator odor, which requires further research to validate the impact ELS might have on later stressful events.

Available for download on Monday, May 22, 2023



The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.