Behavioral effects of neonatal cocaine exposure using a rodent model

Susan Barron, Joan Irvine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


This study examined the effects of neonatal cocaine exposure on behavior using a rodent model. Rat pups were implanted with intragastric cannulas on postnatal day (PND) 4 and artificially reared (AR) from PND 4-10. The AR groups included two cocaine doses (20 mg/kg per day and 60 mg/kg per day) and an AR control. A sham surgery control group was also included that was reared naturally by its dam. Offspring from these neonatal treatment groups were examined for suckling performance (PND 13), passive avoidance learning (PND 23-24), activity (PND 18-21), or spontaneous alternation (PND 21). Neonatal cocaine exposure had no effect on suckling measures or passive avoidance learning. Activity was increased in the 60 mg/kg per day cocaine group relative to controls. In addition, spontaneous alternation was delayed in the 20 mg/kg per day cocaine-exposed females relative to all other groups. These data suggest that neonatal cocaine exposure may alter performance on some relatively simple tasks. More work is clearly warranted to look at the effects of neonatal cocaine exposure on more complex behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-114
Number of pages8
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1995

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported, in part, by NIDA DA06049 to S.B. The authors thank Kathy Puglisi, David Pirtle, and Steve Harrod for their assistance in data collection and analysis, and Lynne Hansen and Daren Kaiser for their comments on an earlier draft of the manuscript. The authors also acknowledge Purina Protein Technologies for their kind donation of Purina protein, Becton Dickinson for their assistance with PE-10 tubing, and Dr. Ed Riley for the use of his activity monitors.


  • Behavior
  • Hyperactivity
  • Neonatal exposure
  • Prenatal cocaine effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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