Neonatal motor cortex lesions in the rat: Absence of sparing of motor behaviors and impaired spatial learning concurrent with abnormal cerebral morphogenesis

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Eight rats with removal of the motor cortex in adulthood were compared behaviorally and neuroanatomically with 10 rats with similar removals at 4 days of age. Results suggest that neonatal ablation of the motor cortex of rats is more debilitating behaviorally than similar injury in adulthood and produces abnormal morphogenesis of the posterior neocortex. Neonatal lesions of the motor cortex produced more chronic abnormalities in movements of the distal effectors that accompany adult lesions (tongue, snout, and digit use) and, in addition, produced abnormalities in limb placement on a narrow beam and a significant impairment in spatial learning, neither of which is associated with adult lesions. When the brains of neonatally operated Ss were compared with those of 10 controls or 5 Ss operated on in adulthood, there were striking differences. Although the area of cavity appeared smaller in the neonatal operates, their brains weighed less, the neocortex was thinner, and the cross-sectional area of the remaining cortex was reduced, when compared with those of the adult-operated group. It is suggested that studies of the acquisition of various neuropsychological learning tasks may have greatly overestimated the degree of sparing following anterior neocortical lesions in rats. (36 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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