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author:("heffner, K.")
1.  Alcohol stress response dampening: Selective reduction of anxiety in the face of uncertain threat 
Problematic alcohol use and stress-response dampening (SRD) are intimately interconnected. Recent evidence suggests that alcohol produces selective SRD during uncertain but not certain threat. We systematically varied shock probability in a novel task assessing alcohol SRD during low probable/uncertain threat, while holding temporal precision of threat constant. Intoxicated (0.08% target blood alcohol concentration) and placebo participants completed a cued shock threat task in which probability of shock administration at the offset of brief visual cues varied parametrically. High probability (100%) shock cues represented certain threat as used in earlier research, while lower probability (20% & 60%) shock cues provided novel uncertain threat conditions. Startle potentiation during cues and inter-trial-intervals (ITIs) served as the measure of affective response. General linear model analysis indicated that alcohol SRD magnitude increased monotonically as threat uncertainty increased. Alcohol SRD was significantly greater during 20% and 60% shock threat relative to 100% shock threat. Alcohol also significantly reduced startle potentiation during distal threat in shock-free ITIs. Alcohol SRD magnitude during distal/uncertain threat was meaningfully moderated by individual differences in negative affectivity and weekly alcohol consumption. This work advances understanding of which properties of uncertainty are relevant to anxiety and anxiolytic effects of alcohol.
PMCID: PMC3413306  PMID: 21937686
alcohol; stress response dampening; fear; anxiety; uncertainty; startle potentiation
2.  Mechanical and cold hypersensitivity in nerve-injured C57BL/6J mice is not associated with fear-avoidance- and depression-related behaviour 
British journal of anaesthesia  2007;98(6):816-822.
Neuropathic pain is associated with significant co-morbidity, including anxiety and depression, which impact considerably on the overall patient experience. However, pain co-morbidity symptoms are rarely assessed in animal models of neuropathic pain. To improve the clinical validity of a widely used rodent model of traumatic peripheral neuropathy, we have investigated fear-avoidance- and depression-related behaviours in nerve-injured and sham-operated mice over a 4 week period.
Male C57BL/6J mice were subjected to partial sciatic nerve ligation (PSNL) or sham surgery and were assessed on days 7, 14, and 28 after operation. Withdrawal thresholds to punctate mechanical and cooling stimuli were measured. Mice were tested on the novel open-field and elevated plus-maze tests for fear-avoidance behaviour, and on the tail suspension test for depression-related behaviour.
Hypersensitivity to punctate mechanical and cool stimuli was evident up to day 28 after PSNL. However, there was no change in fear-avoidance- or depression-related behaviours regardless of interval after-surgery.
These data demonstrate that pain behaviour in nerve-injured C57BL/6J mice was not associated with alterations in emotion-related behaviours.
PMCID: PMC2656645  PMID: 17478455
mouse; pain, chronic; pain, neuropathic; pain, psychological variables; research, animal

Results 1-2 (2)