Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of Psychology


Behavioral Neuroscience

Content Description

1 online resource (iv, 125 pages) : black and white illustrations.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Gordon G Gallup

Committee Members

Gordon G Gallup, Christine K Wagner


Affective Behavior, Autism Model, Mice, Progesterone Neurosteroids, Social Behavior, Stress Hormone, Progestational hormones, Autism spectrum disorders, Neurohormones, Steroid hormones

Subject Categories

Biology | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects children across the U.S. and is characterized by deficits in social communication and restrictive/repetitive behaviors, for which few therapeutic interventions have been successful. Steroid hormones, such as progesterone (P4) and its metabolite, 5α-pregnan-3α-ol-20-one (3α,5α-THP), can exert neuroprotective effects, influence synaptic morphology, mediate behavioral outcomes, and influence stress-responding. In this thesis, the behaviors and baseline levels of the stress hormone, corticosterone, P4, and 3α,5α-THP are investigated in BTBR T+ Itpr3tf/J (BTBR) mice, a proposed ASD model. It was hypothesized that BTBR mice would show abnormalities in behaviors and in levels of steroids and neuroendocrine factors. Results from Experiment 1 indicate that BTBR mice demonstrate deficits in social behaviors and elevated affective and repetitive behaviors. Results from Experiment 2 demonstrate that BTBR mice have elevated levels of corticosterone, P4, and 3α,5α-THP. These findings suggest that neuroendocrine dysregulation may partly underlie the ASD-like behavioral phenotype of BTBR mice.