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The effect of visually evoked innate fear on reward-associated conditional response and reversal learning in mice.

Chen JA, Li S, Wang BX, Wu N, Li F, Li J. The effect of visually evoked innate fear on reward-associated conditional response and reversal learning in mice. Physiology & Behavior. 2022 Feb 1; 244:113648.

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The response to visually evoked innate fear is essential for survival and impacts the cognition and behavior of animals to threats in the environment. However, contradictory findings of the interaction of fear and executive behaviors were reported by previous studies. To address this question, the present study investigated the effect of looming stimuli-driven visually innate fear on reward-associated conditioned response and reversal learning in mice with low or high motivation for sucrose. The mice with low motivation exposed to looming stimuli displayed reduced efficiency in the test of conditional response in the fixed ratio 1 schedule and impaired executive motivation as tested in the progressive ratio schedule of reinforcement. However, the high motivated mice exposed to looming stimuli showed an unaffected conditional response but an increased executive motivation. In the reversal learning program, looming stimuli at the middle stage caused deficits in cognitive flexibility in the mice with low and high motivation. Therefore, these results illuminate the impact of visually evoked innate fear on conditional response and reversal learning and further show that the impacts are relevant to internal motivation and external fear stimuli.

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