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Dev Psychobiol. 1996 Jul;29(5):433-52.

Behavioral deficits induced by bingelike exposure to alcohol in neonatal rats: importance of developmental timing and number of episodes.

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Department of Psychology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, USA.


The importance of the timing and number of episodes of bingelike alcohol exposure in neonatal rats on subsequent behavioral outcomes was evaluated with a parallel bar task and a spatial conditional alternation task. Different groups of Sprague-Dawley rat pups were exposed to alcohol delivered via artificial rearing procedures either on postnatal Days (PD) 4 and 5, on PD 8 and 9, or on both PD 4/5 and 8/9 (Combined), producing daily peak blood alcohol concentrations around 400 mg/dl. Controls included an artificially reared group and a normally reared group. Exposure during PD 4/5 produced significantly more severe motor deficits and significantly more severe reductions in cerebellar and brainstem weights than did exposure on PD 8/9. Combined exposure produced greater deficits on these measures than either of the limited exposures. Significant deficits in the acquisition rates for conditional alternation were found only with the Combined exposure, although both the PD 8/9 and Combined groups committed significantly more within-trial errors. All three alcohol treatments produced significant and comparable reductions in forebrain weight. The type and severity of behavioral and neural deficits induced by neonatal bingelike alcohol exposure depend on the timing and number of exposures.

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