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Behav Neurosci. 2002 Aug;116(4):624-33.

Enduring effects of prenatal cocaine exposure on attention and reaction to errors.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.


Rats exposed to cocaine prenatally were administered a series of 3-choice visual attention tasks, with the most pronounced deficits seen in a task in which the onset time, location, and duration of a visual cue varied unpredictably between trials. The cocaine-exposed rats were less accurate than controls but did not differ in the rate of premature responses or omission errors. The pattern of errors, coupled with response latency data, implicated deficits in the ability to rapidly engage attention and maintain a high level of alertness to the task. The cocaine-exposed rats also exhibited a blunted reaction to an error on the previous trial, possibly reflecting an alteration in emotional regulation and/or error monitoring. Implications for underlying neuropathology are discussed.

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