Stress and estrous cycle affect strategy but not performance of female C57BL/6J mice

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Behavioural Brain Research, Volume 241, p.92-95 (2013)


1872-7549 (Electronic)01

DOI Name (links to online publication)



Stress induces a switch in learning strategies of male C57BL/6J mice from predominantly spatial to more stimulus-response learning. To study generalization of these findings over sex, we investigated female C57BL/6J mice at three phases of the estrous cycle under non stress and acute (10min) restraint stress conditions. On a circular hole board (CHB) task, about half of the naive female mice used spatial and stimulus-response strategies to solve the task. Under stress, female mice favored spatial over stimulus-response strategies, with 100% of female mice in the estrus phase. Performance expressed as latency to solve the task is only improved in stressed female mice in the estrus phase. We conclude that the use of learning strategies is influenced by sex and this difference between sexes is aggravated by acute stress.