Early- and late-phase changes of brain activity and early-phase neuromodulation in the posttraumatic stress disorder rat model

Shao Han Chang, Huan Yuan Chen, Fu Zen Shaw, Bai Chuang Shyu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a complex syndrome that may occur after life-threatening events. Fear memory abnormalities may play vital roles in the pathogenesis of PTSD. Previous work has found that fear memories are not rigid; the retrieval of fear memories may change over time. Furthermore, prior studies suggest that theta wave (4 Hz) activity is highly correlated with fear expression in an animal model. However, the relationship between pathological fear memory and potential brain wave features in PTSD remains largely uncharacterized. Here, we hypothesized that after traumatic stress exposure, the longitudinal dynamics of abnormal fears in PTSD animal models could be reflected by the measurement of local field potentials (LFPs). Using a well-established modified single-prolonged stress and footshock (SPS & FS) PTSD rat model, animals were restrained for 2 h and subsequently subjected to 20 min of forced swimming, then exposed to diethyl ether until they lost consciousness and placed in a conditioning chamber for fear conditioning. To characterize the temporal changes, we characterized freezing behavior brain wave features during the conditioning chamber re-exposure in the early (10 and 30 min; 2, 4, and 6 h) and late (day 1, 3, 7, and 14) phases after traumatic stress exposure. Our results indicate that SPS & FS rats showed co-morbid PTSD phenotypes including significantly higher levels of anxiety-, depression-, and anhedonia-like behaviors, and impaired fear extinction. Delta wave (0.5–4 Hz) suppression in the medial prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and ventral hippocampus occurred 10 and 30 min after traumatic stress, followed by continuous delta wave activity from 2 h to day 14, correlating with fear levels. tDCS reduced delta activity and alleviated PTSD-like phenotypes in the SPS & FS group. In this study, profiling abnormal fears with brain wave correlates may improve our understanding of time-dependent pathological fear memory retrieval in PTSD and facilitate the development of effective intervention strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100554
JournalNeurobiology of Stress
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Sept

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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