Long-term effects of chronic postnatal lead exposure on delayed spatial alternation in monkeys.
Two cohorts of monkeys chronically exposed to lead during the first year after birth and their controls were tested during adulthood for choice accuracy on a learning and memory task, delayed spatial alternation (DSA). Neither cohort showed significant lead-related deficits, as had been seen in a previous experiment with monkeys exposed to similar chronic levels of lead during the first year with an additional high pulse given five-six weeks after birth (18,19). On the contrary, the lead-exposed monkeys in the present experiment actually performed slightly better than controls. In the previous (pulse-chronic) study, the deficit occurred at short intertrial delays, suggesting an attentional rather than mnenomic deficit. A lead-induced decrease in attentiveness could also explain the present results. The lower level lead intoxication may have decreased attentiveness to a lesser degree, so that the monkeys were less susceptible to irrelevant stimuli and performed better.
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