Maternal exercise during pregnancy improves object recognition memory in adult male offspring
Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013, 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM
++F.02.ff. Learning and memory: Cortical and hippocampal circuits
*A. M. ROBINSON
, D. J. BUCCI;
Psychological and Brain Sci., Dartmouth Col., Hanover, NH
Maternal exercise during pregnancy has been shown to be beneficial for the offspring. However, most studies have looked at the effect of maternal exercise on anxiety and spatial cognition in juvenile or adolescent pups. The present study was designed to test the effect of maternal exercise during pregnancy on recognition memory that relies on the perirhinal cortex (PER) in adult offspring. Male and female Long Evans rats were allowed to mate during a 72-hour period. Pregnant female rats were then assigned to exercise or non-exercise conditions. Rats in the exercise condition had 24 hr access to a running wheel inside their homecages during gestation and rats in the non-exercise condition were housed in cages without wheels. Once pups were born, the wheels were removed and pups stayed with their mothers until being weaned on PND 21. When they were 60 days old, object recognition memory was assessed in 10 male offspring from exercising mothers and 11 male offspring from non-exercising mothers. After being habituated to the testing environment, rats were placed in a plastic tub for 5 min and allowed to explore two identical sample objects. Twenty-four hours later (test session), rats were returned to the tub, which contained one of the sample objects as well as a new, unfamiliar object and given 2 min to investigate the items. A discrimination ratio served as the dependent variable of interest and was calculated as the time spent exploring the novel object divided by total time spent exploring both objects. There were no group differences in time spent exploring the objects during the sample session (p>0.15). During the test session, however, the offspring of exercising mothers were able to successfully discriminate between novel and familiar objects (p<0.03) in that they spent more time exploring the novel object than the familiar object. The offspring of non-exercising mothers were not able to successfully discriminate between objects (p>0.6) and spent an equal amount of time with both objects. This result was obtained again when rats were tested two weeks later with a different set of objects. A subset of rats underwent a third object recognition test and were euthanized 1 hr later to assess c-FOS expression in the PER. There was a significant group difference in that the offspring of exercising mothers had more c-FOS expression in the PER than the offspring of non-exercising mothers (p<0.006). These results indicate that maternal exercise during pregnancy can improve object recognition memory that relies on the PER in male offspring and these effects last into adulthood.
NIH Grant R01MH082893
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