Rough-and-tumble play and the development of the social brain

Social play – that is, play directed toward others – is a readily recognizable feature of childhood. In nonhuman animals, social play, especially seemingly competitive rough-and-tumble play or play fighting, has been the most studied of all forms of play. After several decades of study, researchers of play fighting in laboratory rats have pieced together the rudiments of the neural mechanisms that regulate the expression of this behavior in the mammalian brain. Furthermore, the understanding of the organization, development, and neural control of play in rats has provided a model with which to examine how the experiences accrued during play fighting can lead to organizational changes in the brain, especially those areas involved in social behavior. Copyright © 2007 Association for Psychological Science.

Social play – that is, play directed toward others – is a readily recognizable feature of childhood. In nonhuman animals, social play, especially seemingly competitive rough-and-tumble play or play fighting, has been the most studied of all forms of play. After several decades of study, researchers of play fighting in laboratory rats have pieced together the rudiments of the neural mechanisms that regulate the expression of this behavior in the mammalian brain. Furthermore, the understanding of the organization, development, and neural control of play in rats has provided a model with which to examine how the experiences accrued during play fighting can lead to organizational changes in the brain, especially those areas involved in social behavior. Copyright © 2007 Association for Psychological Science.

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