Labyrinthine and visual involvement in the dorsal immobility response of adult rats

The dorsal immobility response (DIR) is typically seen in the infants of many altricial mammalian species. Lifting the animal into the air by the nape of the neck is the primary releasing stimulus. Functionally, this response appears to facilitate carrying of the infants by the adults. When grasped by the nape and lifted into the air, adult rats will also exhibit the DIR. In this paper, the role of the labyrinths in the DIR of adult male rats was examined. Vestibular stimulation produced by vertical circular acceleration increased the duration of the DIR, while labyrinthectomy greatly diminished the DIR. In rats with intact labyrinths, visual occlusion greatly potentiated the DIR, whereas, in labyrinthectomized rats, visual occlusion had little effect. These data indicate that the vestibular system plays a major role in mediating the DIR of adult rats. The retention of the DIR into adulthood and the possible increased role of the labyrinths in the control of the adult DIR, are discussed with respect to the possible role of the DIR as an anti-predator mechanism. © 1990.

The dorsal immobility response (DIR) is typically seen in the infants of many altricial mammalian species. Lifting the animal into the air by the nape of the neck is the primary releasing stimulus. Functionally, this response appears to facilitate carrying of the infants by the adults. When grasped by the nape and lifted into the air, adult rats will also exhibit the DIR. In this paper, the role of the labyrinths in the DIR of adult male rats was examined. Vestibular stimulation produced by vertical circular acceleration increased the duration of the DIR, while labyrinthectomy greatly diminished the DIR. In rats with intact labyrinths, visual occlusion greatly potentiated the DIR, whereas, in labyrinthectomized rats, visual occlusion had little effect. These data indicate that the vestibular system plays a major role in mediating the DIR of adult rats. The retention of the DIR into adulthood and the possible increased role of the labyrinths in the control of the adult DIR, are discussed with respect to the possible role of the DIR as an anti-predator mechanism. © 1990.

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