Presentation Type

Poster

Faculty Mentor’s Full Name

Nathan Insel

Faculty Mentor’s Department

Department of Psychology

Abstract / Artist's Statement

Sunny Mathaun, Susan Greene, Patrick Hanni, Nathan Insel

Is play behavior in adolescent rats regulated at the level of dyads or individuals?

COVID19 has caused our society to take a number of measures that have increased social isolation. As social beings, our brain’s response to social isolation is to find a way back to social interactions and relationships. But there may be many different reasons we are driven to interact socially. In some cases, we may be looking to form or develop specific relationships, while in others we may just be interested in interacting--or playing. The research question for this study asks if play behavior in adolescent rats is regulated at the level of individuals (increases if the individual is socially isolated) or dyads (increases if individuals are isolated, or if dyads are separated). Based on prior research performed in adult female degus, we hypothesize that adolescent female rats will play with one-another more if they have been previously separated, as a means to re-establish their dyadic relationship. We predict that both types of social encounters, after separation versus after isolation, should be higher compared with if animals are only isolated for a 1-minute period. To conduct this research, we video recorded physical interactions of rat dyads following different isolation or separation manipulations. After recording the physical interactions, we scored the behaviors using BORIS (Behavioral Observation Research Interactive Software) which allows users to mark behavioral ethogram events during video playback. The preliminary data from a total of 26 rat reunion sessions suggest that play behavior may increase if individuals are isolated, but not if dyads are separated. Unexpectedly, when measuring all interactions, including sniffing, no differences were observed in total interaction levels across the three conditions. These results were inconsistent with hypotheses, and suggest that play behavior may not be driven by a motivation to re-establish relationships. In other words: if adolescent rats received their daily dose of play with a cagemate, they are not also motivated to play more with other individuals who they have not recently encountered. This study has implications for understanding how different social behaviors are motivated in different species, or between different life stages.

Category

Social Sciences

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Is play behavior in adolescent rats regulated at the level of dyads or individuals?

Sunny Mathaun, Susan Greene, Patrick Hanni, Nathan Insel

Is play behavior in adolescent rats regulated at the level of dyads or individuals?

COVID19 has caused our society to take a number of measures that have increased social isolation. As social beings, our brain’s response to social isolation is to find a way back to social interactions and relationships. But there may be many different reasons we are driven to interact socially. In some cases, we may be looking to form or develop specific relationships, while in others we may just be interested in interacting--or playing. The research question for this study asks if play behavior in adolescent rats is regulated at the level of individuals (increases if the individual is socially isolated) or dyads (increases if individuals are isolated, or if dyads are separated). Based on prior research performed in adult female degus, we hypothesize that adolescent female rats will play with one-another more if they have been previously separated, as a means to re-establish their dyadic relationship. We predict that both types of social encounters, after separation versus after isolation, should be higher compared with if animals are only isolated for a 1-minute period. To conduct this research, we video recorded physical interactions of rat dyads following different isolation or separation manipulations. After recording the physical interactions, we scored the behaviors using BORIS (Behavioral Observation Research Interactive Software) which allows users to mark behavioral ethogram events during video playback. The preliminary data from a total of 26 rat reunion sessions suggest that play behavior may increase if individuals are isolated, but not if dyads are separated. Unexpectedly, when measuring all interactions, including sniffing, no differences were observed in total interaction levels across the three conditions. These results were inconsistent with hypotheses, and suggest that play behavior may not be driven by a motivation to re-establish relationships. In other words: if adolescent rats received their daily dose of play with a cagemate, they are not also motivated to play more with other individuals who they have not recently encountered. This study has implications for understanding how different social behaviors are motivated in different species, or between different life stages.