Sensory Processing Disorder in a Primate Model: Evidence From a Longitudinal Study of Prenatal Alcohol and Prenatal Stress Effects

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Physics and Astronomy


Disrupted sensory processing, characterized by over- or underresponsiveness to environmental stimuli, has been reported in children with a variety of developmental disabilities. This study examined the effects of prenatal stress and moderate-level prenatal alcohol exposure on tactile sensitivity and its relationship to striatal dopamine system function in thirty-eight 5- to 7-year-old rhesus monkeys. The monkeys were from four experimental conditions: (a) prenatal alcohol exposed, (b) prenatal stress, (c) prenatal alcohol exposed + prenatal stress, and (d) sucrose controls. Increased D2 receptor binding in the striatum, evaluated using positron emission tomography neuroimaging, was related to increased withdrawal (aversion) responses to repetitive tactile stimuli and reduced habituation across trials. Moreover, prenatal stress significantly increased overall withdrawal responses to repetitive tactile stimulation compared to no prenatal stress.

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Child Development