Purposefulness was higher in rats with low levels of anxiety

(ORDO NEWS) — A study on rats showed that the higher the anxiety, the lower the motivation to achieve the goal. This conclusion was made by scientists from Switzerland and Germany.

Individuals’ cognitive and behavioral responses to stress vary and may be related to the individual’s ability to develop certain psychological pathologies, such as depression.

Studies on the relationship of motivation after exposure to stress have already been carried out, but they gave conflicting results.

Some have shown that stress reduces motivation, while others have shown the opposite. There is evidence that low levels of anxiety are associated with motivation to achieve success, while high levels are associated with avoiding failure.

Scientists from the Polytechnic School of Lausanne (Switzerland) and the Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry (Germany) decided to learn more about this issue and conducted a study.

The experiment involved rats, which, like humans, have different levels of anxiety. Two groups of animals were involved – with low and high anxiety.

All subjects were taught the technique of pressing a special lever to receive a treat. After that, both groups were stressed: for 15 minutes they were placed on a well-lit platform (rats are afraid of bright light), from which they could not escape.

Immediately after that, the rodents had access to the coveted lever. It was designed in such a way that the animals had to make more and more efforts to activate it and get a “yummy”. It turned out that in anxious individuals, stable performance and the motivation associated with it were significantly lower than in their less anxious counterparts.

The scientists analyzed and found that the expression of the CRHR1 receptor, which is involved in the regulation of motivation, differed in both groups. In animals with low anxiety, the expression level of CRHR1 was higher than in subjects with increased anxiety.

To test their findings, the researchers used genetic and pharmacological strategies to alter the expression level of the receptor.

The results of the experiment were confirmed: rats with a low level of anxiety were more purposeful than animals with a high level of it. The results of the experiment will be useful for the treatment of depression, because it, like anxiety behavior, is associated with the expression of CRHR1.


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