Belmont University Research Symposium (BURS)

Effect of Acute Restraint Stress on Cognitive Flexibility in Rodent Models

Publication Date



Sciences and Mathematics, College of


Psychological Science, Department of

BURS Faculty Advisor

Timothy Schoenfeld PhD

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation


Cognitive flexibility is an executive function that comprises the ability to mentally shift and adapt behavioral and cognitive strategies in response to changing environments. Among the many factors that can impact this function is stress, which has been shown to reduce cognitive flexibility in humans. The impact of stress on cognitive flexibility is a relatively new area of investigation that has yielded conflicting results; therefore, there is a critical need to further study if and how these factors are related. This study aimed to investigate the impact of acute restraint stress on cognitive flexibility using a rodent model. Eight Long Evans rats ran 4 trials on each of 5 unique mazes. For every maze, half of the rats were exposed to acute restraint stress for 30 minutes prior to running the maze, while the other half did not have acute stress exposure. The stressed and non-stressed groups alternated every time the maze changed. The time taken for each rat to complete each maze was recorded and will be analyzed for statistically significant differences between stressed and non-stressed times. It is predicted that acute restraint stress will negatively impact the cognitive flexibility of the rats: compared to a baseline measure of time to complete a maze, the rats will take significantly longer to learn to complete new mazes following 30-minute periods of acute restraint stress.

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