The behavioral response to novelty is altered in rats neonatally exposed to cocaine

Jennifer A. Willford, Tracy M. Segar, Susan Barron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


It has recently been suggested that the effects of in utero cocaine exposure may result in subtle deficits related to a challenging environment, including exposure to novelty or stress. This study used a neonatal drug- exposure model to examine the behavioral response to a novel environment in rodents. Subjects were artificially reared(AR) from postnatal Days 410. There were four treatment groups; AR 40 mg/kg/day cocaine, AR 20 mg/kg/day cocaine, AR control group receiving no drug, and a normally reared control. In Experiment 1, subjects were tested for their preference of maternal home-cage or clean wood-chip odors in a T-maze on postnatal Day 15. Subjects from all treatment groups preferred the maternal odor. In Experiment 2, subjects were habituated to four familiar odors and tested with a novel odor in an open field (postnatal Days 16-21). Neonatal exposure to 20 mg/kg/day cocaine led to an overall increase in exploratory behavior during testing, whereas 40 mg/kg/day did not, supporting the hypothesis that developmental exposure to cocaine at some doses may alter the offspring's response to a changing environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-351
Number of pages9
JournalDevelopmental Psychobiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1999


  • Cocaine
  • Neonatal
  • Novelty
  • Prenatal
  • Sprague-Dawley

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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