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Of Mice and Men: Translational Studies of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Filippone, Ashlee Brooke (2010) Of Mice and Men: Translational Studies of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Sleep disturbances are the most commonly reported symptom associated with posttraumatic stress disorder. Experiencing sleep disturbances such as nightmares and insomnia early on after trauma exposure has shown to significantly increase the risk for developing the daytime symptoms (i.e. reexperiencing and hyperarousal) of PTSD. Sleep disturbances (nighttime symptoms) are often resistant to current first-line treatments used to alleviate PTSD's daytime symptoms. But why have sleep disturbances become such a defining characteristic of PTSD? Recent research suggests that the role sleep plays in this trauma-induced anxiety disorder is not only a diagnostic symptom, but may actually be a causal factor for the onset and persistance of PTSD's daytime symptoms. However, it is difficult to study the role of sleep disturbances in the development and maintainance of PTSD due to human limitations after trauma. Alternatively, animal models that use fear conditioning to elicit a fear response similar to what we see in PTSD in humans may yield further insight to understanding the role of sleep in trauma responses and guide the development of more effective treatments for PTSD. Here, we propose a novel animal model of conditioned fear to study the impact of trauma on insomnia and nightmares. A two-part fear conditioning paradigm was designed to validate use of a mild transient hypercapnia (mTH) as a novel conditioned stimulus for fear conditioning. Fear responses were measured by both behavioral and physiological changes. In addition to measures of sleep- wake states, physiological measurements of heart rate, blood pressure and EMG recordings were continuously monitored during both wakefulness and sleep in mice. We expected to see physiological changes indicative of fear responses in addition to changes in sleep architecture (specifically in NREM and REM sleep) commonly seen in fear conditioning. The goal of this two part study is to validate the use of (mTH) as an effective condition stimulus for fear conditioning. Validation of this model will allow for future presentation of mTH during sleep without awakening the mice in a new paradigm that can probe sleep.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Filippone, Ashlee
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGermain,
Committee CoChairO' Donnell, Christopherodonnellcp@upmc.eduCPO2
Committee MemberSayette, Michaelsayette@pitt.eduSAYETTE
Committee MemberArnedt,
Date: 12 May 2010
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 1 April 2010
Approval Date: 12 May 2010
Submission Date: 21 April 2010
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
David C. Frederick Honors College
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: translational research
Other ID:, etd-04212010-133052
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:40
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2016 14:35


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