Thursday, 15 August 2019

Fear of predators causes PTSD-like changes in brains of wild animals


AUGUST 7, 2019

Fear can be measured in the brain and fearful life-threatening events can leave quantifiable long-lasting traces in the neural circuitry of the brain with enduring effects on behaviour, as shown most clearly in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
A new study by Western University demonstrates that the fear predators inspire can leave long-lasting traces in the neural circuitry of wild animals and induce enduringly fearful behaviour, comparable to effects seen in PTSD research.
The findings of this study, led by Western University's Liana Zanette, Scott MacDougall-Shackleton and Michael Clinchy, were published today in Scientific Reports.
For the first time, Zanette, her students and collaborators experimentally demonstrated that the effects predator exposure has on the neural circuitry of fear in wild animals can persist beyond the period of the immediate 'fight or flight' response and instead can remain measurable more than a week later, in animals exposed in the interim to natural environmental and social conditions.


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