The hypothesis that neonatal norepinephrine (NE) depletion lessens the behavioral consequences of differential housing was tested. Male Wistar rats were injected with 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) or vehicle twice within 24 hr of birth, weaned at 25 days, and reared under either impoverished (IC) or enriched conditions (EC) for 30 days. In 3 experiments, rats were tested in the Morris water maze, the colony-intruder test, and 2 tests of dominance. 6-OHDA treatment reduced cortical and hypothalamic NE concentrations and increased brainstem NE concentrations. EC housing increased cortical dopamine (DA). Behavioral differences caused by postweaning enrichment-isolation were reduced by neonatal NE depletion, primarily in early test trials. The authors conclude that forebrain NE afferents from the locus coeruleus are important for housing-related behavioral changes and responsivity to novel testing environments.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Behavioral Neuroscience