Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

William Falls

Second Advisor

Donna Toufexis


Disorders such as schizophrenia (SCZ) and austism spectrum disorder (ASD) have long been associated with prenatal stress. In these three experiments, we attempted to correlate stress during gestation with behaviors considered to have good facial validity with SCZ and ASD in both juvenile and adult animals. To differentiate the effects of prenatal stress (PS) from the effects of early life stress due to a dam's behavior (MS), half of offspring animals were cross fostered to dams treated in the alternative condition as the offspring during pregnancy in experiments 2 and 3. In experiment 1, but not in 2 or 3, maternal animals that did not receive stress during pregnancy retrieved pups later than those that did. Our results in experiment 1 indicate that movement in a novel open field is dependent upon PS in a manner influenced by animal sex. In experiment 2, where cross fostering was considered, PS was a significant influence in females, while MS had considerable effect in males. Additionally, in males, animals treated by both PS and MS moved more than other male animals. Experiment 3 showed distinctions in male animals due to MS, but in startle amplitude, not open field movement. Overall, these experiments show the influence of PS and MS upon animals in juveniles and adults, but effects may be somewhat occluded due to litter effects.



Number of Pages

74 p.