Habituation and dishabituation to repeated mild cold exposures in C57BL/6J mice

Mark I. Talan, Bernard T. Engel

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Every two weeks for 12 weeks four groups of C57BL/6J male mice, initially 12 months old, were subjected to three-hour cold stress tests, which consisted of a partial physical restraint at an ambient temperature of 10°C. The control group experienced six consecutive tests; one experimental group skipped the cold exposure during test No. 4 but was physically restrained at room temperature; the other two experimental groups omitted test No. 4. One of these groups spent the four weeks between test No. 3 and test No. 5 in their home cages, while the other was subjected to daily, 30-minute sessions of electrical stimulation of the hypothalamus through electrodes implanted in the "rewarding" area of the medial forebrain bundle. All animals in this group showed self-stimulating behavior in the test session which preceded cold stress test No. 1. During test No. 3, all four groups showed an improvement of cold tolerance relative to their first tests; body mass and colonic temperature prior to cold exposure remained unchanged. The two experimental groups that were not exposed to cold during test No. 4 and did not receive brain stimulation, demonstrated a significant worsening of cold tolerance during the subsequent test. Their body mass and baseline colonic temperatures did not change. The control group and the group which was subjected to brain stimulation during the interval between tests No. 3 and No. 5 did not demonstrate any changes in cold tolerance. These data demonstrated habituation to repeated mild cold exposures and dishabituation after interruption of cold exposures. Electrical stimulation of "rewarding" areas of the hypothalamus, which we have reported previously to improve cold tolerance in senescent mice, also prevented the dishabituation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)753-757
Number of pages5
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1988


  • C57BL/6J mice
  • Cold exposure
  • Dishabituation
  • Habituation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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