UNIT 8.10B Rodent Models of Depression: Learned Helplessness Using a Triadic Design in Rats

  1. Robert C. Durgam

Published Online: 1 MAY 2001

DOI: 10.1002/0471142301.ns0810bs14

Current Protocols in Neuroscience

Current Protocols in Neuroscience

How to Cite

Durgam, R. C. 2001. Rodent Models of Depression: Learned Helplessness Using a Triadic Design in Rats. Current Protocols in Neuroscience. 14:8.10B:8.10B.1–8.10B.12.

Author Information

  1. University of New Hampshire, Durgam, New Hampshire

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 MAY 2001
  2. Published Print: FEB 2001


Certain types of human depression are precipitated by stressful life events, and vulnerable individuals experiencing these stressors may develop clinical depression. Understanding the neurobiology of stress vulnerability (depression) as well as stress resiliency (coping) is critical for guiding the development of novel pharmacotherapeutic agents for stress-related disorders such as depression in humans. The use of a triadic design (escapable shock, yoked-inescapable shock and restrained control) allows the investigator to examine the various sequella of stress exposure, while manipulating and quantifying the impact of psychological dynamics of stress such as active behavioral coping (i.e., stress control). Both escape and yoked subjects are exposed to the identical amount, intensity, pattern and duration of stress. The critical distinction between these two groups is that the escape group has the opportunity to terminate the shock stress by turning a wheel at the front of a chamber, while wheel-turning for the yoked subject is of no consequence. Any difference observed between the escape and yoked subjects is a result of the effects of coping, rather than stress exposure per se. The restrained group is included to control for the effects of handling. Any differences between this group and the escape and yoked subjects reflects the impact of stress per se.