Journal article Open Access

Olfactory signals mediate social buffering of conditioned fear responses in male rats

Takahashi, Yuji; Kiyokawa, Yasushi; Kodama, Yuka; Arata, Sayaka; Takeuchi, Yukari; Mori, Yuji

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<oai_dc:dc xmlns:dc="" xmlns:oai_dc="" xmlns:xsi="" xsi:schemaLocation="">
  <dc:creator>Takahashi, Yuji</dc:creator>
  <dc:creator>Kiyokawa, Yasushi</dc:creator>
  <dc:creator>Kodama, Yuka</dc:creator>
  <dc:creator>Arata, Sayaka</dc:creator>
  <dc:creator>Takeuchi, Yukari</dc:creator>
  <dc:creator>Mori, Yuji</dc:creator>
  <dc:description>In social animals, the presence of an affiliative conspecific alleviates acute stress
responses, and this is called social buffering. We previously reported that social
buffering mitigates the fear responses of male rats to auditory conditioned stimuli that
had been paired with foot shocks. Subsequent studies revealed that signals that are
perceived by the main olfactory epithelium are important for social buffering. Because
olfactory signals are the signal perceived by the main olfactory epithelium, we
hypothesized that we could induce the social buffering of conditioned fear responses by
presenting olfactory signals that were derived from a conspecific. In order to test this
hypothesis, we exposed fear-conditioned subjects to a conditioned stimulus either in a
clean test box or in a test box that was odorized by keeping a conspecific in it as an odor
donor beforehand. When the subjects were tested in the clean test box, they showed
behavioral fear responses and enhanced Fos expression in the paraventricular nucleus.
In contrast, the presence of conspecific olfactory signals blocked these fear responses
and Fos expression. These results suggested that olfactory signals suppress conditioned
fear responses. Fos expression in the posteromedial region of the olfactory peduncle and amygdala suggested that this suppression involves the same neural mechanisms as those
of social buffering. Taken together, we concluded that olfactory signals mediate the
social buffering of conditioned fear responses.</dc:description>
  <dc:title>Olfactory signals mediate social buffering of conditioned fear responses in male rats</dc:title>
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