Cholesterol Modifies Classical Conditioning of the Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) Nictitating Membrane Response

Bernard G. Schreurs, Carrie A. Smith-Bell, Jeff Lochhead, D. Larry Sparks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Cholesterol plays an important role in synapse formation, receptor function, and synaptic plasticity, and animal studies show that modifying cholesterol may improve learning and memory. Other data show that feeding animals cholesterol can induce beta amyloid accumulation. Rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) fed 2% cholesterol for 8 weeks were given trace conditioning of the nictitating membrane response using a 100-ms tone, a 700-ms trace, and periorbital electrical stimulation or airpuff. Rabbits fed cholesterol showed significant facilitation of trace conditioning to airpuff and conditioning-specific reflex modification to periorbital electrical stimulation and airpuff. The cholesterol-fed rabbits had beta amyloid accumulation in the cortex, but little in the hippocampus. The data suggest cholesterol had facilitative effects that outweighed potential amnesic effects of cortical beta amyloid.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1220-1232
Number of pages13
JournalBehavioral Neuroscience
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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