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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Prenatal cocaine exposure specifically alters spontaneous alternation behavior.

Our laboratory has previously characterized a rabbit model of gestational cocaine exposure in which permanent alterations in neuronal morphology, cell signaling and psychostimulant-induced behavior are observed. The cellular and molecular neuroadaptations produced by prenatal cocaine occur in brain regions involved in executive function and attention, such as the anterior cingulate and medial prefrontal cortices. Therefore, in the present study, we have measured the effects of prenatal cocaine exposure on specific behavioral tasks in adult offspring whose mothers were treated with cocaine (3mg/kg, twice a day, E16-E25). We assessed non-spatial, short-term memory in a two-object recognition task and found no deficits in memory or exploratory behaviors in cocaine-exposed offspring in this paradigm. We also evaluated a different memory task with a more robust attentional component, using spontaneous alternation in a Y maze. In this task, young adult rabbits exposed to cocaine prenatally exhibited a significant deficit in performance. Deficits in spontaneous alternation can be induced by a wide variety of behavioral and cognitive dysfunctions, but taken together with previous findings in this and other animal models, we hypothesize that prenatal exposure to cocaine alters highly specific aspects of cognitive and emotional development.[1]


  1. Prenatal cocaine exposure specifically alters spontaneous alternation behavior. Thompson, B.L., Levitt, P., Stanwood, G.D. Behav. Brain Res. (2005) [Pubmed]
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