The role of play-derived experiences on the development of the medial prefrontal cortex and adult social behavior

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Stark, Rachel A.
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Arts and Science
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Dept. of Neuroscience
For many mammals, play with peers is a hallmark of the juvenile period. While these animals may play because it is fun, research has also shown that play during the juvenile period helps develop critical skills that allow animals to better adapt to unpredictable situations later in life. Therefore, play is hypothesized to build skills, especially executive functions that, in many mammals, depend on neural systems that incorporate the prefrontal cortex. This thesis uses novel approaches to explore the role of play in the development of social skills and the underlying brain mechanisms in rats. For the first time, the same rearing paradigm is used to compare the effects play deprivation has in both sexes. Not only do males and females exhibit the same social deficits and altered brain development, but this thesis also shows that both sexes depend on the same play-derived experiences.
medial prefrontal cortex , rat juvenile period , play deprivation , play fighting , social play , neurobiology of social play , play derived experiences , development of social skills , play in young mammals , Play behavior in animals -- Research , Play -- Social aspects -- Research , Prefrontal cortex -- Research , Fighting (Psychology) -- Social aspects -- Research , Social behavior in animals , Critical periods (Biology) , Rats -- Development , Rats -- Behavior , Executive functions (Neuropsychology) , Dissertations, Academic