Meeting Abstract

53-4  Friday, Jan. 5 10:45 - 11:00  Thanks for being flexible: Cognitive flexibility training can attenuate the effects of a rodent trauma model on fear learning and memory CHABY, LE*; LIBERZON, I; CHABY, Lauren; University of Michigan lauren.chaby@gmail.com

Exposure to stress can cause lasting changes in cognition, but some individual traits, such as high cognitive performance, can reduce the degree, duration, or severity of cognitive changes following stress. Here, we test whether cognitive training or high cognitive performance can attenuate changes in fear memory using a rodent trauma-model called single prolonged stress. Exposure to single prolonged stress typically heightens fear responses even after a fear association has been extinguished (by reducing extinction retention), which may reflect changes in context processing. We used cognitive flexibility training to assess individual variability in cognitive skills and to condition rats to discriminately use information in their environment. We found that cognitive flexibility training enhanced both fear extinction learning and extinction retention, compared with rats that did not undergo cognitive training. Further, when cognitive flexibility training was followed by exposure to a trauma-model, we found accelerated extinction learning and an increased rate of extinction retention in the second half of testing, compared with rats that were not trained but were exposed to the trauma-model, suggesting that cognitive flexibility training may attenuate context processing changes. At the individual level, cognitive performance during only one phase of the cognitive flexibility training predicted subsequent fear responses; rats that were high performers in the reversal learning phase of the cognitive flexibility training had an increased rate of extinction retention compared with low reversal performers, suggesting that this aspect of cognitive performance may be most important in predicting changes in context processing following stress.