Lack of effect of an early stressful life event on sensorimotor gating in adult rats

Julia Lehmann, Christopher R. Pryce, Joram Feldon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hypotheses of the etiology of schizophrenia emphasize the important role of perinatal insults in predisposing individuals to the development of the disease, so that an animal model in which a discrete postnatal manipulation of the infant social environment yields schizophrenia-like behavior in adulthood would be valuable in terms of the study of the neural substrate and treatment of schizophrenia. Schizophrenics demonstrate a deficit in sensorimotor gating (prepulse inhibition), and a similar phenomenon has been described in adult rats following the administration of direct and indirect dopamine agonists. Recently it has been reported that a 24 h separation of rat pups from the mother results in a disruption of prepulse inhibition at adulthood. Here we report a study which investigated the same phenomenon but which, in contrast to the previous study, utilized unrelated subjects all derived from different dams. Maternal separation was conducted for 24 h with pups aged 4, 9 or 18 days and these subjects, together with non-separated controls, were tested at age 3 months in terms of their prepulse inhibition in the acoustic startle response paradigm. Maternal separation did not disrupt prepulse inhibition. Comparison of males and females (with a maximum of one opposite-sex sibling) demonstrated that acoustic startle response and prepulse inhibition of this response was enhanced in males relative to females. This study indicates that 24 h maternal separation does not provide a robust model for studying the effects of early environmental insults on the long-term abnormal development of sensorimotor gating. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-371
Number of pages7
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 21 Jan 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Litter effects
  • Long-term development
  • Maternal separation
  • Rat model
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sensorimotor gating


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