UNIT 8.4 Application of Experimental Stressors in Laboratory Rodents

  1. Stephen C. Heinrichs1,
  2. George F. Koob2

Published Online: 1 FEB 2006

DOI: 10.1002/0471142301.ns0804s34

Current Protocols in Neuroscience

Current Protocols in Neuroscience

How to Cite

Heinrichs, S. C. and Koob, G. F. 2006. Application of Experimental Stressors in Laboratory Rodents. Current Protocols in Neuroscience. 34:8.4:8.4.1–8.4.17.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts

  2. 2

    The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 FEB 2006
  2. Published Print: JAN 2006


This unit presents eight separate stressor protocols for laboratory rodents. Stress induction is a critical element in the study of neural and neuroendocrine mechanisms involved in establishing and maintaining a state of stress. The first four procedures, immobilization, footshock, swimming, and noise, involve acute exposure to noxious stimuli. The next three procedures, social isolation, resident/intruder aggression, and maternal deprivation, induce social disruption by withdrawal from a group housing condition, attack within the unfamiliar territory of a dominant male, or segregation of a preweanling pup from its mother, respectively. The final procedure, sleep deprivation, involves passive denial of the opportunity to sleep. Support protocols are provided to address the need for environmental acclimation and calming procedures prior to any stress-related studies (including, for rats, handling of the animals as a calming measure) and to detail a simple method of quantifying the response to a given stressor by direct measurement of levels of the stress hormones adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and corticosterone.


  • stress;
  • rat;
  • mouse;
  • ACTH;
  • corticosterone;
  • anxiety