Undergraduate Honors Thesis


The role of the prelimbic cortex in controllability-dependent stress-induced changes in effortful reward-seeking behavior Public Deposited


    Humans are often faced with making decisions to exert effort and how this exertion can affect our motivation to perform these tasks. This cost-benefit analysis can be disrupted by feelings of stress that may hinder our ability to make these decisions, which can often lead to negative consequences including mental health disorders. Previously, it was seen that the prelimbic (PL) region was involved in modulating the behavior during effort tasks and for stressor controllability. By investigating what regions of the brain are able to modulate the behavioral effects following stress and our decision to expend effort, it can be significant to assist the population in mitigating the negative health outcomes. The present study was designed in order to evaluate the effects of stress on motivated reward-seeking behavior, and also assess the role of the prelimbic cortex in stress-related resiliency during effortful reward-seeking tasks. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were utilized in a weight lifting task with three groups consisting of escapable stress (ES), inescapable stress (IS), and homecage (HC) animals. We hypothesized that stressor controllability in the ES animals would protect them from a decrease in motivated behavior which was supported by the present results. A two-bottle choice test was also done in order to clarify that stress did not alter sucrose preference which was seen through the results that after ES and IS, rodents still preferred sucrose over water. We hypothesized that stimulating the PL region with DREADDS would reinstate the weight lifting behavior of the IS rats and create similar benefits to the ES group. The results did not support this and there was no protection from IS experience of weight lifting behavior in the animals. However, this data is still able to provide valuable insights into the regions and circuitry that may modulate stressor controllability-dependent changes in motivated reward-seeking behavior.

Date Awarded
  • 2022-03-28
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Granting Institution
Last Modified
  • 2022-04-11
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