The ontogeny of conditioned odor potentiation of startle.Behav Neurosci. 2000 Dec; 114(6):1167-73.BN
During development, conditioned responses usually occur first to olfactory, then to auditory, and finally to visual cues. The authors of the present study report that fear potentiation of startle to an olfactory conditioned stimulus emerges relatively late in development (i.e., at 23 days of age; Experiments 1 and 2). The failure to observe conditioned odor potentiation of startle (OPS) in younger rats was not due to a failure to either acquire or remember the odor-shock association (Experiment 3). Surprisingly, the authors also found that rats trained at 16 but tested at 23 days of age failed to exhibit the OPS effect even though they did exhibit pronounced odor avoidance (Experiment 4). The results are discussed in terms of (a) sensory-specific sequential emergence of learned fear, (b) the neural circuit involved in fear potentiation of startle, and (c) the concept that conditioned responding is appropriate to the animal's age at the time of training rather than its age at testing.