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Assistant Professor of Psychology Laura Grafe and Alums Co-Author Article

April 1, 2024

Sex Differences in Body Temperature and Neural Power Spectra in Response to Repeated Restraint Stress

Authors: I.C. Ravaglia '22, V. Jasodanand '20, S. Bhatnagar, L.A. Grafe

Source: Stress- The International Journal on the Biology of Stress, Volume: 27, Issue: 1, DOI: 10.1080/10253890.2024.2320780, Feb. 2024

Type of Publication: Journal Article

Abstract: Repeated stress is associated with an increased risk of developing psychiatric illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is more common in women, yet the neurobiology behind this sex difference is unknown. Habituation to repeated stress is impaired in PTSD, and recent preclinical studies have shown that female rats do not habituate as fully as male rats to repeated stress, which leads to impairments in cognition and sleep. Further research should examine sex differences after repeated stress in other relevant measures, such as body temperature and neural activity. In this study, we analyzed core body temperature and EEG power spectra in adult male and female rats during restraint, as well as during sleep transitions following stress. We found that core body temperature of male rats habituated to repeated restraint more fully than female rats. Additionally, we found that females had a higher average beta band power than males on both days of restraint, indicating higher levels of arousal. Lastly, we observed that females had lower delta band power than males during sleep transitions on Day 1 of restraint, however, females demonstrated higher delta band power than males by Day 5 of restraint. This suggests that it may take females longer to initiate sleep recovery compared with males. These findings indicate that there are differences in the physiological and neural processes of males and females after repeated stress. Understanding the way that the stress response is regulated in both sexes can provide insight into individualized treatment for stress-related disorders.