Problem solving following neonatal exposure to cocaine, ethanol, or cocaine/ethanol in combination in rats

Susan Barron, Lynne Hansen-Trench, Daren H. Kaiser, Tracy M. Segar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


This study examined the effects of neonatal drug exposure on performance in a digging maze. Subjects were Sprague-Dawley rats, artificially reared (AR) and fed through a gastrostomy tube from postnatal days (PND) 4-10. The AR groups included a cocaine group (20 mg/kg/day cocaine hydrochloride), an ethanol group (4 g/kg/day ethanol), a cocaine/ethanol group (20 mg/kg/day cocaine and 4 g/kg/day ethanol), and an AR control group. A suckled control raised by its dam was also included. At approximately PND 55, subjects were tested in a digging maze paradigm. The digging maze required subjects to use a species typical behavior (digging) to solve a novel problem (gaining access to water). While neonatal treatment had no effect on acquisition of a simple runway task for water reward, neonatal exposure to cocaine and ethanol in combination resulted in impaired performance on the digging maze task. None of the other neonatal treatment groups showed impairments on this task. These findings suggest that exposure to these doses of cocaine and ethanol during neonatal development may have more serious effects on problem solving tasks in rats than exposure to either drug alone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-203
Number of pages7
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1996

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supportedin part by NIDA DA06049 to S.B. We would like to thank Steven Harrod for his technical assistance. We would also like to acknowledge Purina Protein Technologies for their generous donation of Purina protein and Becton Dickinson for their assistancew ith PE-10 tubing.


  • Neonatal exposure
  • Polydrug exposure
  • Prenatal alcohol effects
  • Prenatal cocaine effects
  • Problem solving

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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