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Neurotoxicol Teratol. 1993 Jan-Feb;15(1):11-20.

Effects of environmental enrichment on cortical depth and Morris-maze performance in B6D2F2 mice exposed prenatally to ethanol.

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Department of Health Studies, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.


Pregnant mice were fed a liquid diet with 25% of the calories as ethanol from day 5 to 17 of gestation; controls received equivalent amounts of diet with maltose-dextrin substituted isocalorically for the ethanol. Two male weanlings from each litter were assigned randomly to an enriched or isolated environmental condition. After 6 weeks in these environments measures of brain growth were obtained, including thickness of frontal, parietal, and occipital cortex (study 1), or their behavioral capabilities were assessed in a Morris water maze (study 2). Ethanol decreased birth weight (both studies), postweaning body weight (study 2), and brain weight (study 1), while the enriched animals in both studies were heavier. Ethanol decreased the thickness of the occipital cortex only. All groups demonstrated learning by showing a decrease in latency to locate the hidden platform over the 5 days of testing; this was supported by their spending most time in the target quadrant during the probe trial. The latencies of the enriched animals were shorter than the isolated; covariance analysis indicated that this was not due solely to their faster swimming speed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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