Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Michael Hennessy (Advisor), Michal Kraszpulski (Committee Member), Larry Ream (Other), Patricia Schiml (Advisor), Christopher Wyatt (Other)

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Social buffering, a phenomenon in which the presence of a social partner can reduce stress responses, is often most effective between strongly attached partners. Our laboratory previously found a surprising buffering effect of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) response in preweaning guinea pigs by unfamiliar adult males. It was hypothesized that this HPA-buffering effect was driven by social interactions between the two partners and may involve an activation of the prelimbic cortex. Therefore, the current study examined these potential associations. To limit social interactions, the adult male was anesthetized in one condition compared to another condition where the adult male remained conscious. Conscious males, but not unconscious males, significantly reduced cortisol levels, suppressed vocalizations, and increased Fos activity in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). In conclusion, unfamiliar adult males can buffer HPA responses in preweaning guinea pigs via social interactions, which may involve an activation of the mPFC to suppress HPA activity.

Page Count


Department or Program

Department of Neuroscience, Cell Biology, and Physiology

Year Degree Awarded