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Dev Psychobiol. 2009 Apr;51(3):277-88. doi: 10.1002/dev.20362.

Adolescent female rats are more resistant than males to the effects of early stress on prefrontal cortex and impulsive behavior.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station A8000, Austin, Texas 78712, USA.


We tested the hypothesis that adolescent Sprague-Dawley females may be more resistant than males to display impulsive behavior and lower prefrontal cortex thickness after mother-infant separation (MS). Starting at postnatal day 2 (P2), the MS group was separated 6 hr/day and the early handled (EH) group 15 min/day for 10 days, and another group was standard facility reared (SFR). Subjects were examined for novel open-field activity (P28), light-dark apparatus (P29), familiar open-field (P30) and frontal cortical thickness. This protocol resulted in impulsive behavior in MS rats relative to EH and SFR, but this effect was less pronounced in females than males. MS affected the two sexes differently in terms of decreased prefrontal cortex dorsoventral thickness, with this effect being significant in males but not females. Neuroanatomical and behavioral documentation that adolescent females are more resistant than males to ADHD-like effects of maternal separation have not been previously reported.

(c) 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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