Alterations in DRH and DRL performance in rats developmentally exposed to an environmental PCB mixture

Helen J.K. Sable, Brian E. Powers, Victor C. Wang, John J. Widholm, Susan L. Schantz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Schedule-controlled responding was examined in offspring of rats exposed to a PCB mixture formulated to mimic the PCB congener profile in fish from the Fox River in Green Bay, WI. Female rats were administered 0, 1, 3, or 6 mg/kg/day of the PCB mixture beginning four weeks prior to breeding until weaning on postnatal day 21. When offspring were approximately 235 days old, they were tested on three different schedules of a differential reinforcement of high rate (DRH) operant task (DRH 2:1, DRH 4:2, and DRH 8:4). DRH testing was followed by testing on the differential reinforcement of low rate (DRL) operant task in which rats had to inhibit responding until 15 s had elapsed (DRL 15) from the previous response in order to obtain a food reinforcer. After completion of DRL 15 testing, 3 days of extinction testing were conducted (DRL EXT) during which no reinforcers were delivered. Developmental exposure to the higher PCB doses resulted in shorter inter-response times (IRTs) and shorter response durations during DRH 8:4, which translated into a greater percentage of reinforced trials. For DRL 15, no significant exposure-related effects were observed on the number of responses or reinforcers earned, or the number or proportion of responses with long or short inter-response times during acquisition or steady state performance. However, during DRL EXT, rats developmentally exposed to the highest PCB dose responded more than controls, produced significantly more short IRT responses, and had a significantly lower proportion of long IRT responses. Overall, exposure to this PCB mixture resulted in increased responding which was suggestive of a deficit in inhibitory control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)548-556
Number of pages9
JournalNeurotoxicology and Teratology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2006


  • Developmental toxicity
  • Impulsivity
  • Inhibition
  • PCBs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Alterations in DRH and DRL performance in rats developmentally exposed to an environmental PCB mixture'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this