The expression of fear-potentiated startle during development: integration of learning and response systems.Behav Neurosci. 2006 Aug; 120(4):861-72.BN
Relative to freezing, fear-potentiated startle (FPS) is developmentally delayed. Rats trained on Postnatal Day (PD) 18 expressed conditioned stimulus learning on PD 19 in freezing but not in FPS, whereas rats trained on PD 24 and tested on PD 25 expressed both freezing and FPS (Experiment 1). According to a neural maturation hypothesis, this delay results from functional immaturity of pathways mediating FPS. When rats were trained on PD 18, neither delaying the FPS test, allowing FPS pathways to develop, nor administrating the "reminder" treatment, the expression of FPS was promoted (Experiments 1, 2, and 2A). PD 18 learning was expressed in FPS on PD 25 when nontarget conditioned stimulus-unconditioned stimulus training occurred prior to the test, and this effect was modality dependent (Experiments 3 and 4). The authors conclude that engaging mechanisms of associative encoding when FPS pathways are functional is a critical condition for integrating learning and FPS response systems in development.