The impact of prenatal alcohol exposure on social, cognitive and affective behavioral domains: Insights from rodent models.
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Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) are characterized by deficits in working memory, response inhibition, and behavioral flexibility. However, the combination and severity of impairments are highly dependent upon maternal ethanol consumption patterns, which creates a complex variety of manifestations. Rodent models have been essential in identifying behavioral endpoints of prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE). However, experimental model outcomes are extremely diverse based on level, pattern, timing, and method of ethanol exposure, as well as the behavioral domain assayed and paradigm used. Therefore, comparisons across studies are difficult and there is currently no clear comprehensive behavioral phenotype of PAE. This lack of defined cognitive and behavioral phenotype is a contributing factor to the difficulty in identifying FASD individuals. The current review aims to critically examine preclinical behavioral outcomes in the social, cognitive, and affective domains in terms of the PAE paradigm, with a special emphasis on dose, timing, and delivery, to establish a working model of behavioral impairment. In addition, this review identifies gaps in our current knowledge and proposes future areas of research that will advance knowledge in the field of PAE outcomes. Understanding the complex behavioral phenotype, which results from diverse ethanol consumption will allow for development of better diagnostic tools and more critical evaluation of potential treatments for FASD.Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.