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Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is characterized by depressive episodes during winter that are alleviated during summer and by morning bright light treatment. Currently, there is no animal model of SAD. However, it may be possible to use rodents that respond to day length (photoperiod) to understand how photoperiod can shape the brain and behavior in(More)
Many psychological disorders are characterized by anxiety and alterations in social interactions. Recent studies demonstrate that the chemical messenger nitric oxide (NO) can regulate both anxiety and social behaviours. We tested whether an enzyme that produces NO in the brain, neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS), serves as an interface between social(More)
Individuals are increasingly exposed to light at night. Exposure to constant light (LL) disrupts circadian rhythms of locomotor activity, body temperature, hormones, and the sleep-wake cycle in animals. Other behavioural responses to LL have been reported, but are inconsistent. The present experiment sought to determine whether LL produces changes in(More)
In seasonally changing environments, individuals must coordinate endogenous processes with ambient conditions. Winter is a challenging time to survive and reproduce. In order to anticipate decreased food availability and low temperatures in winter, many rodents use decreasing day lengths as a precise temporal cue. Short day lengths alter several(More)
Many psychological disorders comprise a seasonal component. For instance, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is characterized by depression during autumn and winter. Because hippocampal atrophy may underlie the symptoms of depression and depressive-like behaviors, one goal of this study was to determine whether short days also induce structural changes in(More)
A combination of social withdrawal and increased aggression is characteristic of several mental disorders. Most previous studies have investigated the neurochemical bases of social behavior and aggression independently, as opposed to how these behaviors are regulated in concert. Neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) produces gaseous nitric oxide, which(More)
The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is a major component of the systems that respond to stress, by coordinating the neuroendocrine and autonomic responses. Tightly controlled regulation of HPA responses is critical for maintaining mental and physical health, as hyper- and hypo-activity have been linked to disease states. A long history of research(More)
During winter, increased thermoregulatory demands coincide with limited food availability necessitating physiological tradeoffs among expensive physiological processes resulting in seasonal breeding among small mammals. In the laboratory, short winter-like day lengths induce regression of the reproductive tract, but also enhance many aspects of immune(More)
Postpartum depression (PPD) affects approximately 15% of mothers after giving birth. A complete understanding of depression during the postpartum period has yet to be established, although disruptions in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and stress during the postpartum may be involved. To model these components in rats, we administered high(More)
Challenging early life events can dramatically affect mental health and wellbeing. Childhood trauma and neglect can increase the risk for developing depressive, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders. Early maternal separation in rodents has been extensively studied and induces long-lasting alterations in affective and stress responses. However, other(More)