The Role of the Medial Prefrontal Cortex in the play fighting of Rats

Although decorticated rats are able to engage in play, their play is abnormal in three ways. First, decorticates do not display the normal, age-related shifts in defensive strategies during development. Second, decorticates do not modify their defensive tactics in response to the social identity of their partners. Third, decorticates display a global shift in defensive tactics from more complex to less complex strategies. It has been shown that lesions of the motor cortex (MC) selectively produce the abnormal developmental effects on play, and that lesions of the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) selectively produce the deficits in behavioral discrimination between social partners. In the current set of experiments, we demonstrate that lesions of the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) produce the shift from more complex to less complex defensive tactics, while leaving intact the age-related and partner-related modulation of defensive strategies. Thus, we have evidence for a triple dissociation of function between the MC, the OFC, and the mPFC with respect to social play behavior. © 2009 American Psychological Association.

Although decorticated rats are able to engage in play, their play is abnormal in three ways. First, decorticates do not display the normal, age-related shifts in defensive strategies during development. Second, decorticates do not modify their defensive tactics in response to the social identity of their partners. Third, decorticates display a global shift in defensive tactics from more complex to less complex strategies. It has been shown that lesions of the motor cortex (MC) selectively produce the abnormal developmental effects on play, and that lesions of the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) selectively produce the deficits in behavioral discrimination between social partners. In the current set of experiments, we demonstrate that lesions of the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) produce the shift from more complex to less complex defensive tactics, while leaving intact the age-related and partner-related modulation of defensive strategies. Thus, we have evidence for a triple dissociation of function between the MC, the OFC, and the mPFC with respect to social play behavior. © 2009 American Psychological Association.

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