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Behav Pharmacol. 1999 Mar;10(2):139-49.

Isolation rearing-induced disruption of prepulse inhibition: further evidence for fragility of the response.

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Behavioural Biology Laboratory, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Schwerzenbach, Switzerland.

Erratum in

  • Behav Pharmacol 1999 Jul;10(4):433.


The present study investigated isolation-induced disruptions of prepulse inhibition (PPI), and effects on locomotor activity as a function of home caging condition (sawdust vs grid-floor) in the Wistar rat. Isolates reared in grid-floor cages did not show a disruption of PPI. However, when isolates were reared in sawdust cages, a PPI deficit was evident. In an open field environment, isolates demonstrated significantly increased spontaneous locomotor activity compared to their group-housed counterparts, irrespective of the caging condition employed. Grouped animals reared in grid-floor cages, however, showed reduced activity compared to grouped animals reared in sawdust cages. Although d-amphetamine treatment appeared to enhance locomotor activity selectively in isolates, particularly in those reared in grid-floor cages, this result could be explained by the existing pre-drug activity levels. With respect to PPI, not only were isolation-induced deficits in the Wistar rat difficult to detect in a variable prepulse intensity PPI procedure, but when apparent, the deficits were of a fragile nature. The findings suggest that caging condition may be a critical methodological factor in experiments investigating isolation-induced PPI deficits. Indeed, our results may indicate that rearing animals in grid-floor cages represents a form of chronic mild stress, which can interfere with normal sensorimotor gating mechanisms, in addition to other behaviours.

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