Neonatal ethanol exposure but not neonatal cocaine selectively reduces specific isolation-induced vocalization waveforms in rats

Susan Barron, Rebecca Gilbertson

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30 Citations (SciVal)


This study was designed to examine the interaction of neonatal ethanol and cocaine exposure on isolation induced ultrasonic vocalizations using an oral gavage method of drug administration. There were 5 neonatal treatment groups including 3.0 g/kg ethanol, 20 mg/kg cocaine, both 3.0 g/kg ethanol and 20 mg/kg cocaine, an intubated control and a nonintubated control. Drug was administered twice daily from postnatal days (PND) 4-10. On PND 14, subjects were tested for a 6 min test to assess the rate and type of ultrasonic vocalizations displayed. As previously reported using an intragastric "artificial rearing" administration procedure, pups exposed to ethanol displayed reductions in the number of ultrasonic vocalizations across the test session. Pups exposed to both drugs showed similar deficits to those pups receiving ethanol alone. In contrast, cocaine had no effect on this outcome measure. Sonographic analysis of the vocalizations revealed that ethanol's effects appeared to be selective to certain waveforms rather than a general reduction across all wave types and again, cocaine had no impact on the proportion of the various wave types. These findings provide further support that neonatal ethanol exposure can have significant effects on maternal/infant communication and may play a role in many of the long-term effects associated with ethanol exposure during development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-102
Number of pages10
JournalBehavior Genetics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by NIAAA grant # 09723 awarded to SB. The authors would also like to thank Josh Yahr, Autra Pointer and Bryan Baseheart for their assistance with data collection and Dr. Tomonari Akamatsu for his expertise in acoustical analysis.


  • 3rd trimester ethanol exposure
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
  • Social behaviors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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