Term of Award

Summer 1998

Degree Name

Master of Science

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Department

Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Janie Wilson

Committee Member 1

Paul Kleinginna

Committee Member 2

Daniel Webster

Committee Member 3

Richard Rogers

Abstract

Research has demonstrated that maternal rats interact differently with male and female pups. A particular behavior that varies with the sex ofthe pup is anogenital licking (AGL): a specialized form of licking which is focused on the perineum and serves to stimulate the elimination of urine and feces from the pups. Males tend to receive more AGL than do females, and it has been suggested that this difference in maternal care may contribute to the later expression of sexually dimorphic behavior. One such behavior is juvenile social play, in which males engage more frequently than females. In the present study, males and females were given artificial AGL to supplement the stimulation provided by the dam. It was hypothesized that this additional anogenital stimulation (AGS) would increase the social play of females to a level similar to that of control males. Furthermore, it was expected that the play behavior of males receiving AGS would also be altered relative to control males. Day of testing affected level of play but no significant differences were found between control pups and pups who received additional AGS. Treatment males displayed an atypical pattern of play across the days of testing and a trend toward higher play levels relative to the other conditions. This trend indicates that increased AGL may indeed increase play behavior in males.

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