ADHD

Updated 14 June 2017

Absent mothers causes hyperactivity

In mice, early weaning and separation from their mothers promotes long-lasting hyperactivity and anxiety.

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In mice, early weaning and separation from their mothers promotes long-lasting hyperactivity and anxiety. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Neuroscience describe the development of this new behavioural model, which they hope to use to investigate the long-term effects of early childhood neglect in people.

Arthur Simen and a team of researchers from Yale University School of Medicine, USA, tested their 'Maternal separation with early weaning' (MSEW) model in a group of 80 male mice. He said, "Childhood adversity, in the form of abuse and neglect, is prevalent throughout the world and poses a significant public health problem.
 

Maternal separation

Unfortunately, the underlying molecular mechanisms of the consequences of early life neglect remain largely unknown. To address this, we devised a method of maternal separation that combines several published protocols in order to increase the likelihood of observing a reliable behavioural effect while minimizing fatalities to the developing offspring".

During MSEW, mice undergo maternal separation for 4 hours per day on days 2-5 after birth, and 8 hours per day on days 6-16. They are weaned early, on day 17. The mice exposed to this treatment were found to be hyperactive and anxious, compared to control animals as determined by open field, forced swim and maze tests.

However their body weight and metabolite levels were found to be unchanged revealing that nutritional deficiency was not the cause of the observed behaviour. Speaking about the results, Simen said, "MSEW is a novel paradigm with excellent face validity that allows for in depth examination of the behavioural and neurobiological effects of maternal separation". (EurekAlert! / September 2010)
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Dr Renata Schoeman has been in full-time private practice as a general psychiatrist (child, adolescent and adult psychiatry) since 2008, currently based in Oude Westhof (Bellville). Renata also holds appointments as senior lecturer in Leadership (USB) and as a virtual faculty member of USB Executive Development’s Neuroleadership programme. She serves on the advisory boards of various pharmaceutical companies, as a director of the Psychiatric Management Group (PsychMG) and is the co-convenor of the South African Society of Psychiatrist (SASOP) special interest group for adult ADHD, and co-founder of the Goldilocks and The Bear Foundation (www.gb4adhd.co.za) She is passionate about corporate mental health awareness and uses her neuroscience background to assist leaders in equipping them to become balanced, healthy and dynamic leaders that take their own and their team’s emotional, intellectual, social health and physical needs into account. Renata is academically active and enjoys research and collaborative work, has published in many peer-reviewed journals, and has presented at local and international congresses. She is regularly invited to present at conferences and to engage with the media. During her post-graduate studies, she trained at Harvard, Boston in neurocognition and neuroimaging. Her awards include, amongst others, the Young Minds in Psychiatry award from the American Psychiatric Association, the Discovery Foundation Fellowship award, a Thuthuka award from the NRF, and a MRC Fellowship. She also received the Top MBA student award and the Director’s award from USB for 2015. She was a finalist for the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa’s Businesswoman of the Year Award for 2016, and received the Excellence in Media Work award from SASOP during 2016.

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