Acoustic startle and fear-potentiated startle in alcohol-preferring (P) and -nonpreferring (NP) lines of rats

D. L. McKinzie, T. J. Sajdyk, W. J. McBride, J. M. Murphy, L. Lumeng, T. K. Li, A. Shekhar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The objective of the present study was to determine whether alcohol-preferring P and -nonpreferring NP rats differ in their acoustic startle response and in fear-potentiated startle. In Experiment 1, male P and NP rats were tested on the startle response to acoustic stimuli ranging from 90-115 dB. Experiments 2 and 3 examined fear-potentiated startle and extinction of the response. In Experiment 2, rats received two light foot shock training sessions separated by 3-4 h. Testing consisted of ten acoustic startle (115 dB) and fear-potentiated startle (light preceding the acoustic startle) presentations administered every 24 h for 9 consecutive days. To test potentiated startle learning under reduced training conditions, a single training session was administered in Experiment 3, and a single within-session extinction test of 50 startle and 50 potentiated startle trials occurred the following day. Results of Experiment 1 indicated that P and NP rats did not differ in startle at any of the acoustic intensities tested. Following fear-potentiated startle conditioning in Experiment 2, however, both acoustic startle and potentiated startle responding were consistently greater in P than NP rats over most of the first 6 test days with P rats having approximately a 100% greater acoustic startle and 50-100% greater potentiated startle response. Moreover, following a single training session in Experiment 3, only P rats showed significant fear-conditioned startle. Additionally, P rats exhibited a 50-100% elevated acoustic startle response over that observed in NP rats. Taken together, the data indicate that, although experimentally naive male P and NP rats show similar acoustic startle responses, P rats become more responsive to both startle-alone and potentiated startle stimuli following fear conditioning. The change in general startle reactivity of the P rat following aversive conditioning, along with facilitated light foot shock learning, suggests that stress exposure may be an important variable in examining associations between anxiety and alcohol drinking behavior. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)691-696
Number of pages6
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2000


  • Acoustic startle
  • Fear conditioning
  • P and NP lines of rats

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Pharmacology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Acoustic startle and fear-potentiated startle in alcohol-preferring (P) and -nonpreferring (NP) lines of rats'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this