Jan 12, 1999

The developmental psychobiology of behavioural plasticity in mice: the role of social experiences in the family unit

Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
G Laviola, M L Terranova


Small perturbations of young animals' sensory experience or hormonal milieu have been shown to alter ontogenetic pathways and to potentially produce huge effects on CNS functioning and behaviour later in life. From a social point of view, variables such as the expression of affiliative bonding and of playful interactions among littermates, the quantity/quality of maternal care, or episodes of maternal or sibling deprivation during critical phases in development, seem to interfere as epigenetic factors with the rigidly ordered temporal sequences of events that occur during the ontogenesis of CNS. This leads to the onset of adaptive neurodevelopmental changes, which are observable within a continuum that encompasses both "normal" individual variability and potential behavioural disorganisation, which in turn will probably be related to profound alteration in the establishment of adult social competence. The present review summarises the more recent work in mice dealing with short-term, as well as long-term modifications, in naturally occurring species-typical social and non-social responses as a function of the early manipulation of social characteristics of the family unit (such as litter gender composition and time of weaning)....Continue Reading

Mentioned in this Paper

Biochemical Pathway
Behavior, Animal
Developmental Biology
Neurosecretory Systems
Harassment, Non-Sexual
Study of Epigenetics

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