Over the past few decades, various animal models of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) have been developed. Similarly, various stressors have been used throughout animal research. The Spontaneous Alternation Behavioral (SAB) model is a well-established model of OCD while 2,5-dihydro-2,4,5-trimethylthiazoline (TMT) has recently become a popular naturalistic stressor. This study linked the two together, thus modeling the effect of stress on OCD behaviors. After living in an enriched or standard environment for 3 weeks, male Sprague-Dawley rats were exposed to either TMT or no odor, and then were examined in the SAB task. Unlike what was hypothesized, the enriched environment proved not to be obviously protective towards future stress in terms of SAB behavior. However, rats housed in enriched environments proved to be more decisive, which could be reflective of the protective nature of their enriched housing. Additionally, an interaction effect of housing and odor in terms of distance traveled during odor exposure, paired with the rats’ location in regard to the odor source, lead the researchers to believe that the enriched housing was protective for rats faced with stress. TMT proved to be effectively aversive to the rats yet, unlike what was hypothesized, TMT was not shown to be stress-inducing, at least not in a way that increased OCD-like behavior as modeled by the SAB model. The effects of stress on OCD is challenging to model and further research in this field, using a variety of models, will need to be explored.
Finch, Christina, "The Impact of a Naturalistic Stressor on Spontaneous Alternation Behavior: A New Animal Model of OCD" (2012). Behavioral Neuroscience Honors Papers. 2.
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