Early maternal deprivation reduces prepulse inhibition and impairs spatial learning ability in adulthood: No further effect of post-pubertal chronic corticosterone treatment Academic Article uri icon


  • Prolonged maternal deprivation leads to long-term alterations in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity, disturbances of auditory information processing and neurochemical changes in the adult brain, some of which are similar to that observed in schizophrenia. Here we report the adult behavioural effects of maternal deprivation (12h on postnatal days 9 and 11) in Wistar rats on paradigms of auditory information processing (prepulse inhibition), sensitivity to dopamimetics (amphetamine-induced hyper-locomotion) and cognition (T-maze delayed alternation and Morris water-maze). In addition, we examined the long-lasting effect of chronic 21-day corticosterone treatment during the post-pubertal period (i.e., postnatal days 56-76) on each of these behavioural paradigms in maternally deprived and control rats. Behavioural testing commenced 2 weeks after the termination of corticosterone treatment. Maternal deprivation led to a significant reduction in PPI and impaired spatial learning ability in adulthood, but did not affect the behavioural response to amphetamine. Post-pubertal chronic corticosterone treatment did not have any major long-lasting effects on any of the behavioural measures in either maternally deprived or control rats. Our findings further support maternal deprivation as an animal model of specific aspects of schizophrenia.

publication date

  • January 25, 2007

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