The development of “roughness” in the play fighting of rats: A Laban Movement Analysis perspective

With increasing age, rats, when play fighting, become rougher. In part, this change can be accounted for by the increasing likelihood of using adult-typical fighting tactics. However, even when using the same tactics, adults appear rougher than juveniles in their play. In this study, videotaped sequences of play fighting in rats from the juvenile (30 days) to the post-pubertal (70 days) period were analyzed using Laban Movement Analysis (LMA). Movement qualities called Effort Factors in LMA captured the character of some of this change. Juveniles tended to use Indulging Efforts, whereas older rats tended to use Condensing Efforts. The latter are related to performing movements that are more controlled. This greater level of control was also evident in the way older rats maintained postural support during play fights. When standing over supine partners, juveniles are more likely to stand on the partner with all four paws, reducing their postural stability, and hence ability to control their partner’s movements. Older rats are more likely to place their hind paws on the ground, thus providing a firmer anchor for movements with their upper bodies and forepaws. These age-related changes in behavior were found for both males and females. The findings lend support to a growing body of evidence that play fighting in the juvenile phase of rats is not just a more frequently occurring version of that present in adults, but rather, has unique organizational properties. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

With increasing age, rats, when play fighting, become rougher. In part, this change can be accounted for by the increasing likelihood of using adult-typical fighting tactics. However, even when using the same tactics, adults appear rougher than juveniles in their play. In this study, videotaped sequences of play fighting in rats from the juvenile (30 days) to the post-pubertal (70 days) period were analyzed using Laban Movement Analysis (LMA). Movement qualities called Effort Factors in LMA captured the character of some of this change. Juveniles tended to use Indulging Efforts, whereas older rats tended to use Condensing Efforts. The latter are related to performing movements that are more controlled. This greater level of control was also evident in the way older rats maintained postural support during play fights. When standing over supine partners, juveniles are more likely to stand on the partner with all four paws, reducing their postural stability, and hence ability to control their partner’s movements. Older rats are more likely to place their hind paws on the ground, thus providing a firmer anchor for movements with their upper bodies and forepaws. These age-related changes in behavior were found for both males and females. The findings lend support to a growing body of evidence that play fighting in the juvenile phase of rats is not just a more frequently occurring version of that present in adults, but rather, has unique organizational properties. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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