Exploring the brain-behaviour interface : the role of juvenile play experiences

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Himmler, Brett T.
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Arts and Science
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Dept. of Neuroscience
In laboratory rats, juvenile play behavior has been shown to influence the development of the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and the experience of interacting with multiple partners has been shown to influence the orbital frontal cortex (OFC). Several studies in this thesis further explored these relationships. Two main findings arose. 1).The play-induced changes to the mPFC and the partner-induced changes to the OFC differ in their longevity. The neural remodeling of the mPFC remains relatively unchanged into adulthood, whereas that of the OFC decreases over time, suggesting that these two areas of the prefrontal cortex serve different roles in social behavior. 2) Though wild rats play in a similar manner to domesticated rats, the play-induced changes to the mPFC are not present, suggesting that complex patterns of play fighting have evolved independently of their role in the development of the mPFC. These findings shed new light on play.
juvenile play behavior , medial prefrontal cortex , orbital frontal cortex , social behavior