We have shown that adults exposed to ethanol during adolescence exhibit a deficit in the retention of context fear, reminiscent of that normally seen in preweanling rats. However, preweanlings have been reported to exhibit a potentiation of context fear when they are conditioned in the presence of a tone. Therefore, this study examined context retention 24 hr after tone or context conditioning in male Sprague-Dawley rats exposed intragastrically to 4 g/kg ethanol or water every 48 hr (total of 11 exposures) during adolescence [Postnatal day (P) 28-48] or adulthood (P70-90). Approximately 3 weeks following exposure, retention of fear to the context in animals exposed to ethanol during adolescence was attenuated after context conditioning, but enhanced after tone conditioning. Comparable adult ethanol exposure groups showed typical overshadowing of context fear retention after tone conditioning. These data suggest that adolescent ethanol exposure may induce an immature pattern of cognitive processing.
Keywords: adolescent; associative learning; conditioning; memory; rodent.
© 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.