Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Craig H. Kinsley

Second Advisor

Dr. Fred Kozub

Third Advisor

Dr. Kelly Lambert


The effects of prenatal stress (light/restraint) on the development of the anterior commissure (AC) were investigated. The AC is known to be a sexually dimorphic structure of the brain not directly involved in reproductive behavior; unlike hypothalamic structures and nuclei, however, little is known about its development. The present work examines two factors, sex and stress, known to influence other brain areas. Pregnant rats were assigned to prenatal treatment and control groups. The treatment group was stressed thrice daily for thirty minutes using light/restraint during the third trimester (day 14-21). Control dams remained undisturbed. Male and female offspring were killed between days 90- 100 of life. The brain was coronally sectioned and stained with thionin. The AC of each animal was measured for area (mm2)and volume (mm3). Results indicated control females had a greater AC area and volume relative to control males. Prenatally stressed males had a significantly greater area and volume of AC relative to control males. The neuroanatomical differences support the hypothesis that factors operating in the prenatal environment affect sexually dimorphic structures in the brain not directly involved in reproduction.

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