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Developmental Exposure to a Serotonin Agonist Produces Subsequent Behavioral and Neurochemical Changes in the Adult Male Prairie Vole

Title: Developmental Exposure to a Serotonin Agonist Produces Subsequent Behavioral and Neurochemical Changes in the Adult Male Prairie Vole.
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Name(s): Martin, Melissa M., author
Wang, Zuoxin, professor directing thesis
Kabbaj, Mohamed, committee member
Taylor, Jeanette, committee member
Department of Psychology, degree granting department
Florida State University, degree granting institution
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2011
Publisher: Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: Autistic spectrum disorders (ASDs) are classified as pervasive developmental disorders characterized by abnormalities in various cognitive and behavioral functions. Although exact underlying causes are still unknown, autism is thought to be caused by a complex combination of genetic and/or environmental factors. Interestingly, nearly 30% of autistic patients show elevated blood levels of serotonin (5-HT) and, therefore, certain genetic and environmental factors that are known to elevate 5-HT levels may play a role in the development of autism. It has previously been shown that serotonergic manipulation during early brain development promotes brain abnormalities in areas associated with social and anxiety-related behaviors. However, due to the lack of an appropriate animal model, the effect of this serotonergic manipulation on pro-social and anxiety-related behaviors has yet to be investigated. In the present study, we used the prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster) as an animal model system. The prairie vole is a socially monogamous rodent that forms long-term pair bonds after mating and demonstrates an array of affiliative behaviors towards conspecifics. In these experiments, it was found that perinatal treatment with 5-methoxytryptamine, a non-selective serotonin agonist, impairs social affiliation and may increase anxiety-related behavior. It was also found that these behavioral changes correlate with a decrease in the number of 5-HT neurons in the dorsal raphe nucleus as well as a decrease in 5-HT fiber optic densities within four distinct amygdalar nuclei. Collectively, these data demonstrate the effects of neonatal exposure to 5-HT on pro-social and anxiety-like behaviors and the possible involvement of 5-HT in the regulation of these behaviors. Ultimately, the data obtained from these experiments may help to establish the prairie vole as an animal model of autism and also help to facilitate our understanding of ASDs and the neurobiological abnormalities that underlie such a complex neuropsychiatric disorder.
Identifier: FSU_migr_etd-2697 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Thesis submitted to the Department of Psychology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science.
Degree Awarded: Spring Semester, 2011.
Date of Defense: April 1, 2011.
Keywords: Anxiety, Social Behavior, Amygdala, Serotonin, Autism
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory Committee: Zuoxin Wang, Professor Directing Thesis; Mohamed Kabbaj, Committee Member; Jeanette Taylor, Committee Member.
Subject(s): Psychology
Persistent Link to This Record: http://purl.flvc.org/fsu/fd/FSU_migr_etd-2697
Owner Institution: FSU

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Martin, M. M. (2011). Developmental Exposure to a Serotonin Agonist Produces Subsequent Behavioral and Neurochemical Changes in the Adult Male Prairie Vole. Retrieved from http://purl.flvc.org/fsu/fd/FSU_migr_etd-2697