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Transl Psychiatry. 2018 Mar 27;8(1):71. doi: 10.1038/s41398-018-0119-5.

Maternal deprivation induces alterations in cognitive and cortical function in adulthood.

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Department of Psychology, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN, USA.
Department of Psychology, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN, USA.
Department of Biology, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN, USA.
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, USA.
Indiana University School of Medicine Stark Neuroscience Institute, Indianapolis, IN, USA.
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis School of Science Institute for Mathematical Modeling and Computational Sciences, Indianapolis, IN, USA.


Early life trauma is a risk factor for a number of neuropsychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia (SZ). The current study assessed how an early life traumatic event, maternal deprivation (MD), alters cognition and brain function in rodents. Rats were maternally deprived in the early postnatal period and then recognition memory (RM) was tested in adulthood using the novel object recognition task. The expression of catechol-o-methyl transferase (COMT) and glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD67) were quantified in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), ventral striatum, and temporal cortex (TC). In addition, depth EEG recordings were obtained from the mPFC, vertex, and TC during a paired-click paradigm to assess the effects of MD on sensory gating. MD animals exhibited impaired RM, lower expression of COMT in the mPFC and TC, and lower expression of GAD67 in the TC. Increased bioelectric noise was observed at each recording site of MD animals. MD animals also exhibited altered information theoretic measures of stimulus encoding. These data indicate that a neurodevelopmental perturbation yields persistent alterations in cognition and brain function, and are consistent with human studies that identified relationships between allelic differences in COMT and GAD67 and bioelectric noise. These changes evoked by MD also lead to alterations in shared information between cognitive and primary sensory processing areas, which provides insight into how early life trauma confers a risk for neurodevelopmental disorders, such as SZ, later in life.

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