The effects of neonatal ethanol and/or cocaine exposure on isolation-induced ultrasonic vocalizations

Susan Barron, Tracy M. Segar, Joshua S. Yahr, Bryan J. Baseheart, Jennifer A. Willford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Isolation-induced ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) are emitted by young rat pups when isolated from their dam and conspecifics. These USVs play an important role in maternal/offspring interactions, and have been used as an indicator of response to stress and isolation. This study examined the effects of neonatal ethanol and/or cocaine exposure on USVs in neonatal rats. The neonatal exposure paradigm serves as a model for the 'human third trimester of pregnancy' in terms of CNS development. There were five treatment groups including an artificially reared (AR) ethanol-exposed group (6 g/kg/day), an AR cocaine-exposed group (60 mg/kg/day), an AR ethanol- and cocaine-exposed group (6 g/kg/day+60 mg/kg/day), an AR isocaloric control, and a normally reared control. Both groups that received ethanol took longer to vocalize, and displayed fewer vocalizations than non-ethanol-exposed pups when tested on clean bedding (Experiment 1) or on chips from the nest of a lactating dam (Experiment 2). These results suggest that neonatal ethanol exposure alters the pup's immediate response to isolation. This could have direct effects on maternal/infant interactions, and might help explain some of the long-term effects of ethanol exposure on social behaviors. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported, in part, by NIAAA AA 09723 to S.B. The authors would like to thank Alan Shepherd, Angie Withers, and Jimmy Massey for their help in data collection. We would also like to acknowledge Purina Protein International for supplying protein for the liquid diet, Clay Adams International for assistance with polyethylene tubing, and NIDA for supplying the cocaine hydrochloride.


  • Neonatal cocaine exposure
  • Neonatal ethanol exposure
  • Polydrug exposure
  • Social behaviors
  • Third trimester drug effects
  • Ultrasonic vocalizations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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