Dataset on c-Fos expression within components of corticostriatal thalamocortical circuits during the expression of a compulsive-like behavior in the female rabbit: Brain-behavior relationships.
Data were acquired as part of an ongoing project that explores similarities in the neurobiological substrates of obsessive-compulsive symptoms and maternal nest building behavior in the rabbit. The latter is an adaptive, innate behavior that involves repetitive components expressed in a rigid manner. The present data were derived from 5 pregnant rabbits that were performing maternal nest building behavior 30 min before being sacrificed. The dataset describes regional brain c-Fos expression and a component of maternal nest building behavior (“straw carrying”) in 5 late term pregnant rabbits that had been allowed to interact with straw (a nest building material) for a discrete period (30 min), during which repetitive straw carrying behavior was displayed. Animals were sacrificed for brain c-Fos immunohistochemistry 1 hour after straw was placed into their cage. Regional brain c-Fos expression: Neuronal c-Fos expression is known to be associated with a sustained increase in neuronal excitation above resting levels, primarily due to its induction in response to increased glutamatergic input and corresponding activation of the NMDA receptor. In practice, c-Fos expression is taken to be an indication of an increase in “neuronal activity”. Importantly, there is a lag of approximately 20 – 30 min between the onset of the stimulus that was responsible for increased excitation, and the initiation of neuronal c-Fos expression. c-Fos has a cellular half-life of approximately 1 hour. Thus, the pattern of brain c-Fos expression within a brain histological section represents an composite snapshot of “superimposed” regional activations that occurred within approximately 30 min to 2 hours prior to sacrifice. Behavioral variables: Behavioral variables included in the present dataset are those that reflect the repetitive nature of straw carrying (straw carrying cycle frequency), as well as individual subcomponents of this behavior (collecting straw, interacting with the nest site), and indicators of the “rigidity” of expression of these subcomponents across all cycle repetitions (standard deviations of time spent collecting straw, time spent interacting with nest site). Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA) with cluster rotation was applied in order to reveal and clarify correlational relationships between regional c-Fos expression and specific behavioral variables. This analysis revealed possible relationships - which will need to be tested formally - between correlated activity within putative brain circuits (sensorimotor, limbic, associative) and specific behavioral measures. Thus, the initiation of repetitive straw carrying was negatively associated with activity in limbic processing regions and positively associated with activity in the ventromedial thalamus, while maintenance of this behavior across the longer term was associated with activity in sensorimotor processing regions and posterior hypothalamus.