Behavioural effects of ancestral stress and postnatal environment

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Erickson, Zachary T.
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Dept. of Neuroscience
This thesis examines the effects of both ancestral stress and postnatal environment on behaviour in male Long Evans rats. We investigated the consequences of maternal exposure to prenatal stress across generations (transgenerational prenatal stress), as well the effects of multiple consecutive generations exposed to prenatal stress that may be seen within a hostile natural environment (multigenerational prenatal stress). In addition, we tested the influence of postnatal environment on ancestral stress-induced behavioural changes using consumption of artificial food dye and environmental enrichment via complex housing. Our results suggest that multiple consecutive generations of stress serve as a more consistent environment in which to “calibrate” the developing brain. In addition, our findings suggest that EE is beneficial to all male rats, independent of the experience of ancestral stress. Our results provide evidence that working to improve developmental environments is a worthwhile endeavour, and may reduce risk for mental illness in affected populations.
ancestral stress , behaviour , male Long Evans rats , postnatal environmnent