Social environment as a factor affecting exploration and learning in pre-juvenile rats

Modlinska, K.; Stryjek, R.ł; Chrzanowska, A.; Pisula, W.

Behavioural Processes 153: 77-83


ISSN/ISBN: 1872-8308
PMID: 29777747
DOI: 10.1016/j.beproc.2018.05.010
Accession: 065521328

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Stress associated with social isolation in early life can lead to disturbances in the emotional regulation in adult rats. However, there are no reports on the impact of isolation from the mother while providing contact with peers. Under such conditions, young individuals have the opportunity to interact with others, are able to develop social behaviour, etc. Yet, there is no stimulation and care provided by the mother. We examined the relative impact of maternal contact and sibling contact in the rarely studied pre-juvenile (3rd and 4th week post birth) period on subsequent development. An experiment was designed to compare the impact of different social environments on the animals' behaviour in adulthood. There were three breeding conditions: young with mother, young with peers, and standard breeding conditions. Adult rats were subjected to a T-Maze test to measure the level of exploratory behaviour. Spatial learning was assessed by placing water bottles in the side corridors. The analysis revealed that a distorted environment during the development process has a negative impact on the rats' emotional regulation and a subtle effect on related aspects of adaptive behaviours (i.e. exploration). In the pre-juvenile period, to some degree, contact with peers may be complementary to the mother's influence.