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Effects of long-lasting social isolation and re-socialization on cognitive performance and brain activity: a longitudinal study in Octodon degus.


ABSTRACT: Social isolation is considered a stressful situation that results in increased physiological reactivity to novel stimuli, altered behaviour, and impaired brain function. Here, we investigated the effects of long-term social isolation on working memory, spatial learning/memory, hippocampal synaptic transmission, and synaptic proteins in the brain of adult female and male Octodon degus. The strong similarity between degus and humans in social, metabolic, biochemical, and cognitive aspects, makes it a unique animal model that can be highly applicable for further social, emotional, cognitive, and aging studies. These animals were socially isolated from post-natal and post-weaning until adulthood. We also evaluated if re-socialization would be able to compensate for reactive stress responses in chronically stressed animals. We showed that long-term social isolation impaired the HPA axis negative feedback loop, which can be related to cognitive deficits observed in chronically stressed animals. Notably, re-socialization restored it. In addition, we measured physiological aspects of synaptic transmission, where chronically stressed males showed more efficient transmission but deficient plasticity, as the reverse was true on females. Finally, we analysed synaptic and canonical Wnt signalling proteins in the hypothalamus, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex, finding both sex- and brain structure-dependent modulation, including transient and permanent changes dependent on stress treatment.

SUBMITTER: Rivera DS 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC7591540 | BioStudies | 2020-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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