Reward and anxiety in genetic animal models of childhood depression

O. Malkesman, Y. Braw, O. Zagoory-Sharon, O. Golan, Y. Lavi-Avnon, M. Schroeder, D. H. Overstreet, G. Yadid, A. Weller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


One of the most important criteria for major depressive disorder in adults and in children and adolescents as well, is the loss of interest in or pleasure from typically enjoyable experiences or activities: anhedonia. Anxiety is frequently co-morbid with depression. We examined reward and anxiety in genetic animal models of childhood depression. Two different "depressed" lines were studied: the Flinders Sensitive Line (FSL) and their controls, Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats and the Wistar Kyoto (WKY) line and their controls, Wistar rats. Recently, we found that prepubertal rats (about 35 days old) from these lines exhibited increased immobility in the swim test, and abnormal social play observed after 24-h isolation. We hypothesized that FSL and WKY prepubertal rats will further show anhedonia in two different behavioral assays: the conditioned place preference test (CPP), examining the rewarding aspect of social interaction and the saccharin preference test. Behavior in the open field paradigm and freezing behavior in the CPP apparatus were also used as measures of anxiety. WKY, but not FSL prepubertal rats, consumed less of the saccharin solution compared to their control line. FSL, and WKY prepubertal rats found social interaction to be rewarding to a similar extent as their control lines, in the CPP test. Only the WKY rats showed anxiety in behavior in the open field and freezing behavior in the CPP paradigm. The results suggest that WKY prepubertal rats are anxious and sensitive to stress-induced anhedonia, while FSL prepubertal rats exhibit none of these symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 14 Oct 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research reported in this paper was completed as part of the first and second author's Ph.D. dissertation (O.M. in the Interdisciplinary Program in the Brain Sciences, and Y.B. in the Department of Psychology, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel). O.M., Y.B. and Y.L.A. were supported by President's fellowships, Bar-Ilan University. This work was supported by a grant from the Israel Science Foundation to A.W. Research in the Developmental Psychobiology laboratory is partially supported by the Paula Rich Center, Bar-Ilan University.


  • Anxiety
  • Childhood depression
  • Reward


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