Clinical Psychopharmacology and Neuroscience Papers in Press available online.

Neonatal isolation increases the susceptibility to learned helplessness through the aberrant neuronal activity in the ventral pallidum of rats
Hironori Kobayashi 1, Manabu Fuchikami 1,*, Kenichi Oga 1, Tatsuhiro Miyagi 1, Sho Fujita 1, Satoshi Fujita 1, Satoshi Okada 1, Yasumasa Okamoto 1, Shigeru Morinobu 2
1Department of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Hiroshima University, , 2Department of Occupational Therapy, Kibi International University
Environmental deprivation, a type of childhood maltreatment, has been reported to constrain the cognitive developmental processes such as associative learning and implicit learning, which may lead to functional and morphological changes in the ventral pallidum (VP) and pessimism, a well-known cognitive feature of major depression. We examined whether neonatal isolation (NI) could influence the incidence of learned helplessness (LH) in a rat model mimicking the pessimism, and the number of VGLUT2-expressing VP cells and Penk-expressing VP cells.
The number of escape failures from foot-shocks in the LH test was measured to examine stress-induced depression-like behavior in rats. The number of VGLUT2-expressing VP cells and Penk-expressing VP cells was measured by immunohistochemistry.
In NI rats compared with Sham rats, the incidence of LH in adulthood was increased and VGLUT2-expressing VP cells but not Penk-expressing VP cells in adulthood were decreased. VGLUT2-expressing VP cells were decreased only in the LH group of NI rats and significantly correlated with the escape latency in the LH test.
These findings suggest that the aberrant VP neuronal activity due to environmental deprivation early in life leads to pessimistic associative and implicit learning. Modulating VP neuronal activity could be a novel therapeutic and preventive strategy for the patients with this specific pathophysiology.
Accepted Manuscript [Submitted on 2023-10-02, Accepted on 2023-12-27]