Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

James Craig, Leroy Metze, Clinton Layne

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


The present study evaluated the effect of ethanol administration during prenatal and pre-weaning development on the maze learning (i.e., as assessed by performance on a pretrial and a Lashley III Maze) abilities of rat pups. The subjects consisted of 32 rat pups who were cross-fostered within and between the two dam conditions (i.e., alcohol and control) to produce the four groups: pups exposed to alcoholic mothers (1) during gestation and lactation; (2) gestation only; (3) lactation only; and (4) control pups from non-alcoholic mothers. A factorial split-ploy design was employed.

Results indicated a significant main effect of the gestation condition of the dam on the running speed of the offspring F(1,28)=77.99, p<.01. The lactation conditions were also found to significantly influence the running speed of the offspring F(1,28)=13.44, p<.01. The number of errors made by the offspring before they reached learning criterion was analyzed by a factorial analysis of variance. The analysis Indicated there were significantly more errors made by the offspring of the alcoholic gestation condition than the offspring of the control gestation dams.

The present study strengthens the hypothesis that when alcohol addiction occurs during gestation and lactation the maze running speed of the offspring will be slower than the offspring of dams who have not been exposed to ethanol during gestation and lactation. furthermore, extended exposure to the alcohol condition increases the amount of the learning disability (i.e., running speed in mazes) in the offspring.


Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences

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