Psychology ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 4-6-2018


Memory impairments, including spatial and object processing, are often observed in individuals with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Much attention has been directed towards the hippocampus, which displays significant alterations after moderate prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE). In the present study, we tested a moderate PAE rat model in an object-place-paired-associate (OPPA) task, previously shown to require hippocampal processing. The OPPA task was composed of training rats to discriminate between an identical pair of objects presented in 180° opposite arms of a radial arm maze. Animals were given a total of 10 trials per day over 14 consecutive days of training and were rewarded with a piece of cereal after the correct selection of an object. We observed that PAE rats (n = 8) made significantly more errors than saccharin (SACC) control (n = 8) rats during acquisition of the OPPA task. In Experiment 2, rats performed an object-discrimination task in which rats were trained in a single arm to accurately select a rewarded object from a pair of objects. Moderate PAE and SACC control rats exhibited comparable performance. In Experiment 3, rats performed a Morris water task experiment in which rats were trained to find a hidden platform. The moderate PAE rats by the probe test performed at levels largely similar to the SACC rats. All three experiments combined we found that moderate PAE rats can learn to discriminate objects, places but they are impaired when given a more complex task of combining the two, in an OPPA task.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name


First Committee Member (Chair)

Benjamin J. Clark

Second Committee Member

Derek A. Hamilton

Third Committee Member

Nathan Pentkowski




FASD, moderate, PAE, Memory, object-place-paired-associate, Morris Water Task

Document Type