Delayed spatial alternation deficits resulting from perinatal PCB exposure in monkeys

Edward D. Levin, Susan L. Schantz, Robert E. Bowman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Monkeys exposed to low, chronic levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in utero and during nursing until 4 months after birth were tested at 4-6 years of age on delayed spatial alternation (DSA), a spatial learning and memory task. Deficits in performance accuracy were detected in two cohorts of monkeys whose mothers had been fed 2.5 ppm of the PCB mixture, Aroclor 1248, in their diet for an 18-month period ending at least 12 months prior to pregnancy. The deficit was most apparent at the shorter delays, suggesting that it was not due to memory impairment, but may have been due to impairments in associational or attentional processes. There may also have been a deficit in a group of monkeys whose mothers were fed 1.0 ppm of the PCB mixture, Aroclor 1016. However, the deficit in this group was less pronounced than in the other groups. The appearance of a PCB-induced cognitive deficit more than 3 years after the end of exposure indicated the existence of very long-term adverse consequences of low-level perinatal PCB exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-273
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Toxicology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1988
Externally publishedYes


  • Attention
  • Delayed spatial alternation
  • Monkeys
  • PCBs
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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