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March 1973

Behavioral and Brain Correlations in Early Life Nutritional Deprivation

Author Affiliations

New York
From the Department of Neurology, School of Medicine, New York University, and the Milbank Laboratories, New York University Medical Center.

Arch Neurol. 1973;28(3):167-172. doi:10.1001/archneur.1973.00490210047005

Protein-calorie undernutrition in the period of rapid brain growth during gestation and suckling in DBA/2J mice resulted in persistent reduction in body and brain weights, despite normal diet from weaning. No significant changes in brain or spinal cord were observed with light microscopy. Behavioral tests revealed that experimental animals had more frequent feeding with smaller meal size, increased activity in the presence of environmental stimulation, fewer errors in learning spatial discrimination reversals, and more errors in problemsolving maze tests. Activity in dark environment, bar pressing for food on a progressive ratio schedule, and foot shock avoidance conditioning showed no significant difference between control and experimental groups. This behavioral profile supports an hypothesis of higher set-point for arousal resulting from early life nutritional deprivation which influences reversal learning and problem solving.

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