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Indirect effects of peri-and postnatal choline treatment on place-learning abilities in rat.
This work was aimed at analyzing the effects of perinatal choline supplementation on the development of spatial abilities and upon adult performance. Choline supplementation (3.5 g/L in 0.02 M saccharin solution in tap water) was maintained for two weeks before birth and for up to four weeks postnatally. Additional supplementation was maintained from the fifth to the tenth week postnatally. Spatial-learning capacities were studied at the ages of 26, 65, or 80 days in a circular swimming pool (Morris place-navigation task) and at the age of 7 months in a homing arena. Treatment effects were found in both juvenile and adult rats, and thus persisted for several months after the cessation of the supplementation. The choline supplementation improved the performance in the water maze in a very selective manner. The most consistent effect was a reduction in the latency to reach a cued platform at a fixed position in space, whereas the improvement was limited when the platform was invisible and had to be located relative to distant cues only. However, after removal of the goal cue, the treated rats showed a better retention of the training position than did the control rats. A similar effect was observed in a dry-land task conducted in the homing arena. The choline supplementation thus induced a significant improvement of spatial memory. But since this effect was only evident following training with a salient cue, it might be regarded as an indirect effect promoted by an optimal combination of cue guidance with a place strategy.
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