Age-independent and dose-response effects of ethanol on spatial memory in rats.
Results of previous studies have shown that ethanol impairs the acquisition of spatial memory in adolescent rats at doses below those required to impair the acquisition in adults. However, the previous work did not identify doses of ethanol that failed to impair acquisition in adolescents or that impaired acquisition in both adolescent and adult animals. This was our aim in the present study. Male, Long-Evans hooded rats (adolescent and adult) were treated intraperitoneally with 0.0, 0.5, or 2.5 g/kg of ethanol 30 min before daily training on a spatial or nonspatial version of the Morris water maze task. Twenty-four hours after training on the spatial task the animals were given a 1-min probe trial. The low dose of ethanol (0.5 g/kg) failed to impair the performance of animals from either age group on any tasks. It did, however, enhance the initial rate of acquisition on the spatial task. The 2.5-g/kg dose eliminated acquisition of spatial learning in animals of both ages and significantly attenuated performance on a nonspatial task in both age groups. However, the treatment effect in the nonspatial task was eliminated with controlling for baseline performance. These results establish a low dose of ethanol (0.5 g/kg) that does not impair acquisition of spatial memory in adolescent or adult rats. Moreover, the study findings show that 2.5 g/kg of ethanol markedly impairs acquisition of spatial memory in both adolescent and adult animals.
Acheson, SK; Ross, EL; Swartzwelder, HS
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