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Child Dev. 2008 Jan-Feb;79(1):100-13. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2007.01113.x.

Sensory processing disorder in a primate model: evidence from a longitudinal study of prenatal alcohol and prenatal stress effects.

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  • 1University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Kinesiology, 2175 Medical Sciences Center, 1300 University Avenue, Madison, WI 53706-1532, USA.


Disrupted sensory processing, characterized by over- or underresponsiveness to environmental stimuli, has been reported in children with a variety of developmental disabilities. This study examined the effects of prenatal stress and moderate-level prenatal alcohol exposure on tactile sensitivity and its relationship to striatal dopamine system function in thirty-eight 5- to 7-year-old rhesus monkeys. The monkeys were from four experimental conditions: (a) prenatal alcohol exposed, (b) prenatal stress, (c) prenatal alcohol exposed + prenatal stress, and (d) sucrose controls. Increased D(2) receptor binding in the striatum, evaluated using positron emission tomography neuroimaging, was related to increased withdrawal (aversion) responses to repetitive tactile stimuli and reduced habituation across trials. Moreover, prenatal stress significantly increased overall withdrawal responses to repetitive tactile stimulation compared to no prenatal stress.

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