In animals, personality variations in response to stress and energy demands have been established. Cognitive processing of negative stimuli correlates with stress response patterns. Still, the relative contribution of cognitive appraisal or physiological demands to the behavioural output needs to be clarified. In this study we utilized reactive (high-responsive, HR) and proactive (low-responsive, LR) rainbow trout strains to investigate how contrasting reactions to hypoxia are related to individual variation in metabolism and/or cognition. The HR-LR strains did not differ in standard metabolic rate or hypoxia tolerance. HR trout displayed more pronounced avoidance to a signal cue after being conditioned with hypoxia, suggesting that they experienced this stimulus more aversive than LR trout. Together with differences in forebrain c-fos activation patterns in dorsomedial pallium, these results suggest cognitive differences between the strains. These results demonstrate that differences in personality/stress coping style can be related to contrasts in cognition, which are independent of metabolic differences.
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