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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter January 18, 2013

Effects of chronic stress on the auditory system and fear learning: an evolutionary approach

Alexies Dagnino-Subiabre


Stress is a complex biological reaction common to all living organisms that allows them to adapt to their environments. Chronic stress alters the dendritic architecture and function of the limbic brain areas that affect memory, learning, and emotional processing. This review summarizes our research about chronic stress effects on the auditory system, providing the details of how we developed the main hypotheses that currently guide our research. The aims of our studies are to (1) determine how chronic stress impairs the dendritic morphology of the main nuclei of the rat auditory system, the inferior colliculus (auditory mesencephalon), the medial geniculate nucleus (auditory thalamus), and the primary auditory cortex; (2) correlate the anatomic alterations with the impairments of auditory fear learning; and (3) investigate how the stress-induced alterations in the rat limbic system may spread to nonlimbic areas, affecting specific sensory system, such as the auditory and olfactory systems, and complex cognitive functions, such as auditory attention. Finally, this article gives a new evolutionary approach to understanding the neurobiology of stress and the stress-related disorders.

Corresponding author: Alexies Dagnino-Subiabre, Laboratory of Behavioral Neurobiology, Center for Neurobiology and Brain Plasticity, Department of Physiology, Faculty of Sciences, Universidad de Valparaíso, Gran Bretaña 1111, Playa Ancha, Valparaíso, Chile

Received: 2012-10-2
Accepted: 2012-12-10
Published Online: 2013-01-18
Published in Print: 2013-04-01

©2013 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston

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