Acute stress improves spatial memory
An experiment with lab rats showed that for the first time acute stress favors spatial memory consolidation. The process may occur in the same manner in human beings and allows progress in research related to emotion and education.Bogotá D. C., 23 de septiembre de 2016 — Agencia de Noticias UN-
These were the results obtained by Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) Psychology M.Sc. Gina Paola Urueña Méndez, who carried out an experiment with rats with the purpose of inquiring the positive effects of stress on spatial memory consolidation.
Since her undergraduate days Urreña has worked along with Professor Marisol Lamprea in research on the negative effects of stress on memory processes. However during her master’s she specifically queried on the positive effects of stress on spatial memory storage and consolidation.
Stress may be perceived as the exposure to emotionally demanding situations which can ultimately have different effects on spatial memory. The spatial memory acquisition phase is when new information is obtained and analyzed as the capability to learn to locate in a space based on present elements; consolidation means the process of storing learned information and the recovery phase consists of acting upon consolidated information.
For this project they considered the effect of acute stress, i.e. short and decreased application of stress. The project was carried out on rats as experimental models with the purpose of analyzing the brain mechanisms which occur during the process.
Rats were trained in the Barnes maze which consists of a circular device used in psychological experiments to analyze spatial memory. Then rats were subjected to movement restriction stress. A day after the group carried out a second maze test and the animals which had undergone stress conditions performed better; in other words they acted positively in memory consolidation.
After the UNal Laboratory of Neurosciences experiment they identified neuronal changes in spatial memory coming from acute stress. One of the processes assessed were epigenetic changes in determined brain proteins. The also observed that this reaction in rats could occur in the same manner in human beings.
The importance of this research project translated into establishing new high emotional content pedagogical strategies which may help learning processes in children. Understanding the brain phenomenon it is possible to become knowledgeable of applications with scientific content in educational, clinical or other required context educational situations.
Animals were treated under strict animal care and ethics standards to avoid pain. Therefore from particular protocols they carried out a behavioral analysis which allowed understanding the behavior of rats based on brain function.(Por: Fin/LVB/MLA/APBL