Cognitive changes during pregnancy in female wistar rats

Eze Ejike Daniel


During pregnancy, a considerable number of women experience some degree of cognitive change that has come to be colloquially called “pregnancy brain” or “baby brain”, characterized by forgetfulness and memory disturbances. Studies investigating cognitive changes during pregnancy have been highly conflicting. The current study evaluated learning and memory using the elevated plus maze in non-pregnant and pregnant females at two time periods during pregnancy. Twenty (20) Wistar rats were used for this study, they were randomly assigned to three groups; non-pregnant female (n=6), and two pregnant groups of seven (7) animals each, one was evaluated for learning and memory on gestational day 11 and 12 and the other was evaluated on gestational day 18 and 19. Two females were mated by placing them with one sexually active male in one cage unit until the occurrence of spermatozoid in the vaginal epithelium determined by examination of vaginal smear. All females were returned to their home cages after mating. Day of conception was designated as gestational day zero. The findings showed that there was no significant change (p>0.05) in learning and memory in the pregnant group when compared to the non-pregnant group, although the non-pregnant group appeared to perform better in both activities but it was not statistically significant different (p>0.05) when compared to the control group. In conclusion, the results obtained from this study suggest that pregnancy does not have apparent effect on cognitive abilities in Wistar rats.


Cognition; conception; learning; mating; memory; pregnancy; rats

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