Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Craig H. Kinsley


Reproductive experience (RE), associated with hormonal fluctuations and enriching environmental stimuli, enhances spatial memory and blunts responses to stress/anxiety. Whereas stress reductions occur during lactation, the persistence of the RE-anxiolytic effects is unclear; and little research has focused on the HP A axis, amygdala, and other anxietyrelated areas. Using an elevated plus maze (EPM), we examined anxiety in nulliparous (NP), primiparous (PP), and multiparous (MP) females (zero, one, or two litters, respectively) at 6, 10, 14, 18, and 22 months of age. Brains were subsequently analyzed for neurodegeneration in dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN). RE significantly dampened anxiety (defined by time spent in the open arms [TS-0] ofthe EPM) at 10, 14, 18, and 22 months of age, and significantly reduced the number of degenerating DRN neurons, which was negatively correlated with TS-0 at 22 months. These data suggest that RE blunts anxiety throughout life and preserves neurons in the DRN, indirectly implicating serotonin.

Included in

Psychology Commons