Behavioral and neurochemical abnormalities after exposure to low doses of high-energy iron particles
Exposure of rats to high-energy iron particles (600 MeV/amu) has been found to alter behavior after doses as low as 10 rads. The performance of a task that measures upper body strength was significantly degraded after irradiation. In addition, an impairment in the regulation of dopamine release in the caudate nucleus (a motor center in the brain), lasting at least 6 months, was also found and correlated with the performance deficits. A general indication of behavioral toxicity and an index of nausea and emesis, the conditioned taste aversion, was also evident. The sensitivity to iron particles was 10-600 times greater than to gamma photons. These results suggest that behavioral and neurobiological damage may be a consequence of exposure to low doses of heavy particles and that this possibility should be extensively studied.