Bilateral amygdala stimulation reduces avoidance behavior in a predator scent posttraumatic stress disorder model

Bradley A. Dengler, Shane A. Hawksworth, Laura Berardo, Ian McDougall, Alexander M. Papanastassiou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE The predator scent model of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) produces prolonged abnormal anxiety and avoidance-like behaviors. Increased basolateral amygdala activity has been shown to correlate with severity of PTSD symptoms in human studies. Modulation of this increased amygdala activity by deep brain stimulation led to improved symptoms in prior studies that used a foot shock model of inducing PTSD. The predator scent model is a different technique that induces long-lasting avoidance behavioral responses by exposing the animal to an inescapable scent of one of its predators. The authors hypothesize that high-frequency stimulation of the bilateral basolateral amygdala will decrease avoidance and anxiety-like behaviors in a predator scent rodent model of PTSD. METHODS Rodents underwent cat urine exposure in a place preference protocol. Avoidance in the place preference paradigm and anxiety-like behavior in the elevated plus maze were measured before and after high-frequency stimulation. RESULTS Predator scent exposure resulted in long-term significant avoidance behavior in rodents. Bilateral stimulation significantly decreased avoidance behavior in rodents compared to no stimulation following predator scent exposure. There were no significant differences in anxiety behaviors on the elevated plus maze between stimulated and unstimulated cohorts. CONCLUSIONS Bilateral stimulation of the basolateral amygdala leads to decreased avoidance behavior compared to controls in a predator scent model of PTSD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberE16
JournalNeurosurgical focus
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018


  • Amygdala
  • Anxiety
  • Avoidance
  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Predator scent

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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