Conditioned brain-stimulation reward attenuates the acoustic startle reflex in rats.Behav Neurosci. 2001 Jun; 115(3):710-7.BN
The acoustic startle reflex (ASR) in rats is attenuated by a light paired with food or, in humans, by "pleasant" pictures. Rats were trained to barpress for lateral hypothalamus (LH) stimulation. ASR amplitudes were then measured at 4 intensities, with or without a light. Control rats that did not receive brain-stimulation reward (BSR) showed initially lower ASR amplitudes than did rats exposed to BSR, but both groups responded similarly with or without light. Next, experimental rats were given BSR in the presence of light but not in its absence. After conditioning, ASR amplitudes were reduced, and ASR thresholds were raised by a mean of 2.6 dB in the light but remained at preconditioning levels without light. No such change was found for control rats or rats with placements outside the LH.