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Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1991 Dec;40(4):991-3.

The effects of prenatal nicotine on radial-arm maze performance in rats.

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Department of Psychology, Amherst College, MA 01002.


Studies have revealed lasting cognitive impairments, including deficits in attention and learning, in the offspring of women who smoke. Animal models have shown that prenatal nicotine can induce behavioral impairments, including deficits in learning and memory, and one study showed that only females were impaired on a maze task. The purpose of the present experiment was two-fold: 1) to attempt to replicate the reported sex difference in maze learning and 2) to assess the ability of nicotine-treated subjects to learn a maze that placed particularly heavy demands on their attentional capabilities. Pregnant mothers were given 6.0 mg/kg/day of nicotine in their drinking water. Offspring of both sexes were tested following weaning in an 8-arm-radial maze using a confinement procedure. Results showed that prenatal nicotine treatment produced significant impairments in performance in the radial-arm maze. These impairments were seen in animals of both sexes, a finding which challenges the view that only females prenatally treated with nicotine show deficits in maze learning.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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