Early deprivation under specific conditions leads to reduced interest in reward in adulthood in Wistar rats

Daniela Rüedi-Bettschen, Else Marie Pedersen, Joram Feldon, Christopher R. Pryce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Early life adversity can lead to increased vulnerability to psychiatric disease including depression, with symptoms of depressed mood, impaired coping with negative events, anhedonia, reduced appetite, and elevated stress hormone activity. In rats, postnatal manipulation studies have focused on behavioural and endocrine anxiety effects, and have demonstrated that mild pup stimulation in the form of early handling (EH) is chronically anxiolytic relative to no stimulation in the form of non-handling (NH). Furthermore, apparently severe manipulations in the form of 3-4 h daily litter-dam separation (maternal separation) or pup-litter-dam separation (early deprivation, ED) are either without effect or even EH-like, relative to NH. In this Wistar rat study, we investigated the effects of ED under different circadian and thermal conditions on adulthood behavioural and endocrine responsiveness to environmental challenge, relative to NH. ED was performed on days 1-14, during either the Light or Dark phase and at either 21°C (cold) or 32°C (warm). Dark-cold ED adults exhibited reduced motivation to obtain sucrose in a progressive ratio schedule, tended to be less mobile in a forced swim test, but did not exhibit an escape deficit in a foot-shock pre-exposure/shuttle box test, or altered basal or stress endocrine activity. Light ED was completely without effect on adult phenotype. Even relative to stringent NH comparison, dark-cold ED leads to a long-term trait of mild gustatory anhedonia in Wistar rats.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-310
Number of pages14
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 30 Jan 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Aversive coping
  • Circadian phase
  • Early deprivation
  • Non-handling
  • Reward motivation
  • Thermal stress
  • Wistar rat


Dive into the research topics of 'Early deprivation under specific conditions leads to reduced interest in reward in adulthood in Wistar rats'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this