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Behav Brain Res. 1999 Apr;100(1-2):91-7.

Isolation during the play period in infancy decreases adult social interactions in rats.

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Department of Medical Pharmacology, Rudolf Magnus Institute for Neurosciences, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands.


The effects of 1 or 2 weeks of social isolation immediately after weaning on social activity in adulthood were investigated in rats. In addition, it was studied whether these effects were influenced by social experiences of the cagemate when rehoused after the isolation period. Isolation during weeks 4 and 5 of age caused a reduction of social activity as compared to non-isolated controls. Previous social experiences of the cagemate (isolated or non-isolated) did not affect this decreased social activity. Isolation during week 4 of age resulted in similar effects, but the reduced social activity was not present when the rats were rehoused with non-isolated rats. Isolation during week 5 of age did not influence social activity patterns in adulthood. These findings support the idea of a sensitive period in infancy for subsequent social behavior in rats. It is suggested that especially deprivation of acquiring play behavior underlies the social disturbances in adulthood.

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