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This study evaluated a novel stress-induced animal model in adolescent male (n=28) and female (n=28) rats. All rats were first exposed to high social enrichment (frequent handling and playdates with 13 other rats). Then, experimental rats were exposed to a standard social enrichment, whereas control rats continued in high social enrichment. Behaviors assessed included grooming, rearing, arm entry in the elevated plus maze, and head poking in the hole board. High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) was used to evaluate monoamine neurochemical levels in post-mortem tissue from the prefrontal cortex, motor cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, orbitofrontal cortex, lateral/medial thalamus, dorsal/ventral striatum, amygdala, hypothalamus, and hippocampus. Behavioral and neurochemical measures were affected by enrichment, sex, and age. Understanding the neurophysiological consequences of a sudden removal of social enrichment, such as experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, holds translational value for the treatment of mental health issues.



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Sudden Removal of High Social Enrichment Affects Anxiety-Like Behaviors and Monoamine Levels in Cortico-Striatal-Thalamic Structures of the Rat Brain