Effects of Chronic Estradiol Treatment on Delayed Spatial Alternation and Differential Reinforcement of Low Rates of Responding


Estrogens have been shown to both enhance and impair cognitive function depending on several factors, including regimen of hormone treatment, age of subject, and task attributes. In rodent models, estradiol tends to enhance spatial learning and impair response or cued learning, but effects on executive functions are less well-studied. In this experiment, spatial working memory and response inhibition were tested using delayed spatial alternation (DSA) and differential reinforcement of low rates of responding (DRL) tasks in ovariectomized rats that were given chronic estradiol via Silastic implants resulting in serum estradiol concentrations of 86.2 ± 8.2 (SEM) pg/ml. Rats were tested for 25 days DSA with variable delays of 0, 3, 6, 9, and 18 seconds between lever presentations, followed by 30 days on a DRL-15s operant schedule. Estradiol-replaced rats showed a significantly lower proportion of correct responses on the DSA task compared to vehicle-implanted ovariectomized animals. On DRL, estradiol -treated rats showed a lower ratio of reinforced to nonreinforced presses. These data suggest that chronic estrogen exposure may impair rats' abilities on measures of executive function including working memory and response inhibition. © 2008 American Psychological Association.

Publication Title

Behavioral Neuroscience