Environmental Enrichment During Adolescence Mitigates Cognitive Deficits and Alcohol Vulnerability due to Continuous and Intermittent Perinatal Alcohol Exposure in Adult Rats

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Abstract

Perinatal alcohol exposure affects ontogenic neurodevelopment, causing physical and functional long-term abnormalities with limited treatment options. This study investigated long-term consequences of continuous and intermittent maternal alcohol drinking on behavioral readouts of cognitive function and alcohol vulnerability in the offspring. The effects of environmental enrichment (EE) during adolescence were also evaluated. Female rats underwent continuous alcohol drinking (CAD)—or intermittent alcohol drinking paradigm (IAD), along pregestation, gestation, and lactation periods—equivalent to the whole gestational period in humans. Male offspring were reared in standard conditions or EE until adulthood and were then assessed for declarative memory in the novel object recognition test; spatial learning, cognitive flexibility, and reference memory in the Morris water maze (MWM); alcohol consumption and relapse by a two-bottle choice paradigm. Our data show that perinatal CAD decreased locomotor activity, exploratory behavior, and declarative memory with respect to controls, whereas perinatal IAD displayed impaired declarative memory and spatial learning and memory. Moreover, both perinatal alcohol-exposed offspring showed higher vulnerability to alcohol consummatory behavior than controls, albeit perinatal IAD rats showed a greater alcohol consumption and relapse behavior with respect to perinatal-CAD progeny. EE ameliorated declarative memory in perinatal CAD, while it mitigated spatial learning and reference memory impairment in perinatal-IAD progeny. In addition, EE decreased vulnerability to alcohol in both control and perinatal alcohol-exposed rats. Maternal alcohol consumption produces drinking pattern-related long-term consequences on cognition and vulnerability to alcohol in the offspring. However, increased positive environmental stimuli during adolescence may curtail the detrimental effects of developmental alcohol exposure.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages0
JournalFrontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
Volume14
Publication statusPublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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