An animal model of autism : remediation with tactile stimulation

by Sonja Richards

Institution: University of Lethbridge
Year: 2012
Keywords: Autism  – Research; Valproic acid  – Physiological aspects; Rats as laboratory animals; Dissertations, Academic
Record ID: 1953025
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10133/3126


xi, 98 leaves; 29 cm This thesis examines both behavioral and anatomical effects of prenatal exposure of Valproic Acid (VPA) on Long Evans rats. Tactile stimulation (TS) is then used to investigate its’ effect on remediating any abnormalities VPA may produce. Several behavioral tests were done to assess the behavioral effects of VPA and TS. It was found that VPA had an effect of many of the tasks, whereas, TS had almost none with the exception of an effect on females in the elevated plus maze. However, anatomical data showed that TS had a profound effect on neuronal branch order, cell complexity, and spine density in pyramidal neurons in the medial prefrontal cortex, the orbitofrontal cortex and the amygdala. Where VPA decreased the above in all of these areas, TS increased neuronal complexity in the aforementioned structures. This study demonstrates that prenatal exposure to VPA is a viable model of autism in rats and that TS has significant anatomical effects in these animals as well as in control animals