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Behav Neurosci. 2006 Feb;120(1):72-84.

The effects of orbital frontal cortex damage on the modulation of defensive responses by rats in playful and nonplayful social contexts.

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  • 1Canadian Centre for Behavioural NeuroscienceDepartment of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, AB, Canada.


In a series of 3 experiments on rats, 2 hypotheses were tested: (a) that damage to the orbital frontal cortex (OFC) would alter the socially relevant context for executing defensive responses but not their performance and (b) that damage done to the OFC in early infancy would produce more deficits in social behavior than similar damage occurring in adulthood. Bilateral or unilateral OFC damage in adult males did not impair their ability to defend themselves during play fighting and when protecting their food but did impair their ability to modify the pattern of defense in response to different partners. Rats that sustained bilateral damage at 3 days of age not only had deficits in partner-related modulation of defense but also exhibited hyperactivity in their play. The findings thus supported the proposed hypotheses.

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