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Postnatal ethanol exposure disrupts signal detection in adult rats.

Authors
  • 1
  • 1 Department of Psychology, College of William & Mary, P.O. Box 8795, Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795, USA.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Neurotoxicology and Teratology
0892-0362
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
27
Issue
6
Pages
815–823
Identifiers
PMID: 16115748
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Human prenatal ethanol exposure that occurs during a period of increased synaptogenesis known as the "brain growth spurt" has been associated with significant impairments in attention, learning, and memory. The present experiment assessed whether administration of ethanol during the brain growth spurt in the rat, which occurs shortly after birth, disrupts attentional performance. Rats were administered 5.25 g/kg/day ethanol via intragastric intubation from postnatal days (PD) 4-9, sham-intubation, or no intubation (naïve). Beginning at PD 90, animals were trained to asymptotic performance in a two-lever attention task that required discrimination of brief visual signals from trials with no signal presentation. Finally, manipulations of background noise and inter-trial interval duration were conducted. Early postnatal ethanol administration did not differentially affect acquisition of the attention task. However, after rats were trained to asymptotic performance levels, those previously exposed to ethanol demonstrated a deficit in detection of signals but not of non-signals compared to sham-intubated and naïve rats. The signal detection deficit persisted whenever these animals were re-trained in the standard task, but further task manipulations failed to interact with ethanol pretreatment. The present data support the hypothesis that early postnatal ethanol administration disrupts aspects of attentional processing in the rat.

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