The effects of neonatal gonadectomy and prenatal stress on cortical thickness and asymmetry in rats

Behav Neural Biol. 1988 May;49(3):344-60. doi: 10.1016/s0163-1047(88)90354-8.


In Study I measures of cortical thickness were taken in 90-day-old male and female Sprague-Dawley, Wistar, and Long-Evans rats that were born to pregnant females shipped to the laboratory in late pregnancy and that were either gonadectomized at birth or left intact. No evidence for hemispheric differences in cortical thickness was found in any of the groups. Gonadectomy resulted in increased cortical thickness in male Sprague-Dawley and Wistar rats and in small increases in thickness of the left hemisphere in Long-Evans rats, especially males. No effects of gonadectomy were found in females of any strain. The lack of the expected right-over-left difference in cortical thickness in intact males may have been due to prenatal stress caused by housing, handling, and shipping. In Study 2 measures of cortical thickness were taken in 90-day-old male and female Sprague-Dawley rats that were bred in our laboratory, but otherwise similarly treated at birth. In this second study, the expected right-over-left hemispheric difference in cortical thickness was found in intact male rats; none was found in gonadectomized males or in either of the female groups. The lack of asymmetry in gonadectomized males appeared to be due to an increase in thickness in the left hemisphere. Taken together these studies provide support for the idea that hormones of testicular origin suppress cortical enlargement in the perinatal period, particularly in the left hemisphere.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Cerebral Cortex / growth & development*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Male
  • Orchiectomy*
  • Ovariectomy*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Species Specificity
  • Testosterone / physiology


  • Testosterone