Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Craig Kinsley


The present thesis examines the relationship between reproductive experience and the behavioral, neural, and hormonal processes of learned fear in the female rat. Multiple research models indicate that reproductive experience functions to decrease the female's stress response in potentially harmful environments, thus providing her with numerous survival benefits, including decreased fearfulness, increased aggression, and refined hunting skills. Based on existing understandings of maternal experience and unconditioned fear, this study was designed to determine how nulliparous (no reproductive experience, NP), primiparous (one reproductive experience, PP) and multiparous (more than one reproductive experience, MP) rats comparatively respond to a Pavlovian paradigm of learned fear, involving the pairing of a neutral stimulus (conditioned stimulus, CS) with an aversive stimulus (unconditioned stimulus, US). The behavioral and hormone analysis results confirmed several of the proposed hypotheses, thus providing further evidence that reproductive experience significantly alters the behavioral and hormonal repertoire of the female.

Included in

Psychology Commons