The Effects of Diet on Anxiety in the Prefrontal Cortex

Student Author(s)

Spencer Morgan

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Peter Vollbrecht, Biology

Document Type


Event Date



According to the Center for Disease Control, obesity is a growing epidemic with more than one third of the U.S. adult population being obese. Moreover, the National Institute of Mental Health reports that anxiety disorders exist in 18% of U.S. adults. Anxiety and obesity are often comorbid with anxiety often being attributed to the social stigma surrounding obesity. Our goal is examine the physiological changes following high fat diets or the development of obesity to determine if these changes may lead to anxiogenic behavior. We utilized male Sprague-Dawley rats to perform both behavioral and biochemical analyses. Following this ad libitum high fat diet treatment, rats underwent anxiety-related tests including the Elevated Plus Maze and the Open Field Test. Western blots were conducted on PFC tissue to explore potential differences in the protein levels of corticotropin releasing factor receptor 1 (CRFR-1) following diet manipulation. CRFR-1 receptors play an important role in the stress response and has been found to be altered in obese individuals.

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