Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Craig H. Kinsley

Second Advisor

Dr. Frederick J. Kozub

Third Advisor

Dr. Kelly G. Lambert


Hormonal fluctuations associated with pregnancy and post partum periods create significant changes in the brain and behavior in female rats. Animals were tested in a land version of the Morris Water maze for three days at 6, 12, 18 and 24 months. At the ages of 12, 18, and 24 months animals were also tested in the same maze using a reversal task. At the conclusion of the study brains were analyzed for Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP) to determine the amount of neurodegeneration among the groups. Multiparous animals showed significantly superior performance , followed by primiparous animals, and nulliparous animals across all ages of testing. Brain analysis indicated multiparous animals had significantly fewer APP positive cells than virgin and primiparous animals. These findings suggest that reproductive experience is beneficial to females, providing possible advantages that follow the mother well past her reproductive prime, through the remainder of her life.

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Psychology Commons