Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Grippo, Angela J.

Degree Name

B.S. (Bachelor of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


In the proposed study we will be investigating how age affects the responsiveness to EE, willingness to exercise, and depression- and anxiety-like behaviors in prairie voles that are subjected to social isolation. Previous research findings show that EE helps in the prevention and remediation of social isolation induced depressive and anxiety related behaviors (Van Praag, Kempermann & Gage, 2000).Therefore, in this study we are hypothesizing that the older prairie voles will be less responsive to EE when compared to younger animals because of less adaptability and flexibility. In addition, older voles will show less remediation of social isolation induced depressive and anxiety related behaviors because of decreased cell plasticity in the brain (Burke & Barnes, 2006). We further hypothesis that older voles will exercise less often when compared to young voles. Methodology This study focuses on young prairie voles (~2 months of age) and old prairie voles (~1 year of age). Male prairie voles of each age group are assigned to 3 different conditions: Old-paired, old-isolated, old-isolated with EE, young-paired, young-isolated, and young-isolated with EE. Isolated animals are housed individually whereas paired animals are housed with a female sibling. In addition to the regular amenities: food, water, and bedding, animals exposed to the EE will receive a running wheel, wood block, a tin foil ball, a cardboard toilet paper roll, mini straw hat, two plastic toys, a small bowl with food pellets, a wood jack chew toy, two marbles, and a plastic igloo house (Grippo et al., 2014). The voles are subjected to the respective conditions for four weeks. The amount of physical activity in the running wheel is measured throughout the 4 week period. Upon completion of the given timeline, the voles are subjected to a forced swim test (FST) and an elevated plus maze (EPM) to analyze their post-isolation depression-and anxiety-like behaviors, respectively. In both FST and EPM, the behaviors of the voles are recorded and interpreted by blind observers. For instance, a vole showing immobility during a forced swim test indicates sign of depression. Similarly, spending more time in the closed arms of the elevator plus maize and seeking cover indicates sign of anxiety.


16 pages




Northern Illinois University

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