Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2017

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Psychology & Neuroscience

First Advisor

Dr. Steven Maier

Second Advisor

Dr. Heidi Day

Third Advisor

Dr. Nancy Guild

Fourth Advisor

Dr.Michael Baratta


It is critical to develop an understanding of the neuronal circuitry elements that underly resilience in order to develop a better understanding of how the brain copes with later stressors. Thus our lab has taken a circuit level approach in understanding how exposure to an escapable stressor aids in future coping events. Recent work from our lab has identified that female rodents do not develop resilience from escapable stress (ES) as do their male counterparts, which introduces an interesting model to dissect the neuronal circuitry underlying resilience. In addition to this, the role of the infralimbic cortex (IL) in ES mediated attenuation of fear is of interest due to previous work within our lab. Thus, within this study we work to develop a greater understanding of the neuronal mechanisms underlying stress and resilience through two experiments. In this study we 1) aim to understand the role of infralimbic cortex (IL) projections to the basomedial amygdala (BMA) in ES mediated fear attenuation, and 2) work to determine the effectiveness of ketamine as a protective agent in females and to also dissect the role of prefrontal cortex (PFC) projections to both the dorsal medial striatum and the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN) in females. Through this work, we identify a possible role of the IL-BMA projection in ES mediated fear attenuation and also identify that prophylactic ketamine induces a profound protective effect in females and selectively activates the PFC-DRN pathway.