Full-text resources of CEJSH and other databases are now available in the new Library of Science.
Visit https://bibliotekanauki.pl


2008 | 39 | 2 | 89-97

Article title

The effects of handling on the exploratory activity of rats in settings varying in level of sensory stimulation


Title variants

Languages of publication



This study tests the assumptions of need for stimulation theory. According the main hypothesis of this theory, the stimulus seeking activity of an organism in an unfamiliar environment is affected by two main temperamental traits: emotional reactivity and need for stimulation. In a familiar setting, the influence of emotional reactivity disappears, while the need for stimulation persists. Two experiments were run in which animals' emotionality was manipulated by means of presence or absence of handling and the level of environmental stimulation was manipulated by varying the intensity of light to which the animals were exposed. Sixty male Wistar rats were tested in the first experiment. Stimulus seeking activity was registered in the Skinner-type chambers where animals could switch the light on by every head dip into one of two holes, the so-called experimental hole. Animals were tested in five 30-minute sessions repeated every 48 hours. As predicted, the effect of emotionality on exploration emerged at the beginning of the experiment (handled rats demonstrated a stronger preference for the experimental hole), whereas the effect of the level of environmental stimulation on the total number of head-dips emerged in all the experimental sessions. The second experiment involved 40 rats and followed a similar design, but the stimulus seeking activity was measured in the situation where the animals could switch the light off by dipping their heads into the experimental hole. Contrary to predictions, the experimental factors had no significant effect on the animals' stimulus seeking activity. Only the results of the first experiment confirm the assumptions of need for stimulation theory.








Physical description

source-id: PPB_39_2\982G5021R335430V.xml

Document type



  • Jerzy Osinski, Uniwersytet Warszawski, ul. Krakowskie Przedmiwescie 26/28, 00-927 Warszawa, Poland


  • Bekoff, M., & Byers, J. A., (Eds.) (1998).Animal play: evolutionary, comparative and ecological perspectives.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Biben, M. (1979). Predation and predatory play behaviour of domestic cats.Animal Behaviour, 27(1), 81-94.
  • Burghardt, G. M., Ward, B. & Rosccoe, R. (1996). Problem of reptile play: Environmental enrichment and play behavior in a captive Nile softshelled turtle, Trionyx triunguis.Zoo Biology, 15, 223-238.
  • Burghardt, G. M. (1999). Conceptions of play and the evolution of animal minds.Evolution and Cognition, 5(2), 115-123.
  • Burghardt, G. M. (2005).The genesis of animal play.Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Darwish, M., Koranyi, L., Nyakas, C., & Almeida, O. F. X. (2001). Exposure to a novel stimulus reduces anxiety level in adult and aging rats.Physiology & Behavior, 72, 403-407.
  • Einon, D. F. (1983). Play and exploration. In: J. Archer & L. I. Birke (Eds).Exploration in animals and humans(pp. 211-229). Cambridge: Van Nostrand Reinhold.
  • Fagen, R. (1981).Animal play behavior.New York: Oxford University Press.
  • File, S. E., & Hyde, J. R. (1978). Can social interaction be used to measure anxiety?British Journal of Pharmacology, 62, 19-24.
  • File, S. E., Seth, P. (2003). A review of 25 years of the social interaction test.European Journal of Pharmacology, 463, 35-53.
  • Genaro, G., & Schmidek, W. R. (2000). Exploratory Activity of Rats in Three Different Environments.Ethology, 106, 849-859
  • Glickman, S. E., & Sroges, R. W. (1966). Curiosity in ZOO animals.Behavior, 26, 151-188.
  • Hall, S. L., Bradshaw, J. W. S., & Robinson, I. H. (2002). Object play in adult domestic cats: the roles of habituation and disinhibition.Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 79, 263-271.
  • Hughes, M. (1983). Exploration and play in young children. In: J. Archer & L. I. A. Birke (Eds.),Exploration in animals and humans(pp. 230-244). Wokingham, England: Van Nostrad Reinhold.
  • Hughes, R. N. (1999). Sex differences in novelty-related location preferences of hooded rats.The Quaterly Journal of Experimental Psychology,52B, 235-252.
  • Hutt, C. (1966). Exploration and play in children.Symposia of the Zoological Society of London, 18, 61-81.
  • Jensen, M. B., Vestergaard, K. S., Krohn, C. C. (1998). Play behaviour in dairy calves kept in pens: the effect of social contact and space allowance.Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 56, 97-108.
  • Knutson, B., Burgdorf, J., & Panksepp, J. (1998). Anticipation of play elicits high frequency unltasonic vocalizations in young rats.Journal of Comparative Psychology, 112, 65-73.
  • Kuba, M., Meisel, D. V., Byrne, R. A., Griebel, U., & Mather, J. A. (2003). Looking at play in Octopus vulgaris.Berliner Paläontologische Abhandlungen, 3, 163-169.
  • Latane, B., & Glass, D. C. (1968). Social and nonsocial attraction in rats.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 9(2), 142-146.
  • Lorenz, K. Z. (1982).The foundations of ethology.New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • MacLean, P. D. (1985). Brain evolution relating to family, play, and the separation call.Archives of General Psychiatry, 42, 504-517.
  • Mather, J. A., & Anderson, R. C. (1999). Exploration, play, and habituation in octopuses (Octopus dofleini).Journal of Comparative Psychology, 113, 333-338.
  • Panksepp, J., & Beatty, W. W. (1980). Social deprivation and play in rats.Behavioral and Neural Biology, 30, 197-206.
  • Panksepp, J. (1998).Affective neuroscience: The foundations of human and animal emotions.New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Pellis, S. M., Pellis V. C. (1990) Differential rates of attack, defence, and counterattack during the developmental decrease in play fighting by male and female rats.Developmental Psychobiology, 23, 215-231.
  • Pellis, S. M., Pellis, V. C. (1998). Play fighting of rats in comparative perspective: a schema for neurobehavioral analyses.Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 23, 87-101.
  • Pisula, W. (1997). Rat behavior in the exploration box - cluster analisys.International Journal of Comparative Psychology, 10, 74-89.
  • Pisula, W. (2003a).Psychologia zachowań eksploracyjnych zwierząt[Psychology of the animals exploratory behavior]. Gdańsk: GWP.
  • Pisula, W. (2003b). Costs and benefits of curiosity: the adaptive value of exploratory behavior.Polish Psychological Bulletin, 34(4), 183-186.
  • Pisula, W. (2004). Response to novelty in low-stress conditions in rats.Polish Psychological Bulletin, 35(2), 99-103.
  • Pisula, W., Gonzalez Szwacka, A., & Rojek, E. (2003). Juvenile play fighting and adult investigatory responses in male rats.Polish Psychological Bulletin, 34(1), 47-49.
  • Pisula, W., & Siegel, J. (2005). Exploratory behavior as a function of environmental novelty and complexity in male and female rats.Psychological Reports, 97, 631-638.
  • Pisula, W., Stryjek, R., & Nałecz-Tolak, A. (2006). Response to novelty of various types in labolatory rats.Acta Neurobiologiae Experimentalis, 66(3), 235-243.
  • Renner, M. J. (1987). Experience-dependent changes in exploratory behavior in the adult rat (Rattus norvegicus): Overall activity level and interactions with objects.Journal of Comparative Psychology, 101, 94-100.
  • Renner, M. J. (1990). Neglected aspects of exploratory and investigatory behavior.Psychobiology, 18(1), 16-22.
  • Renner, M. J., Bennet, A. J., & White, J. C. (1992). Age and sex factors influencing spontaneous exploration and object investigation by pre-adult rats (Rattus Norvegicus).Journal of Comparative Psychology, 106, 217-227.
  • Renner, M. J., & Rosenzweig, M. R. (1986). Object interactions in juvenile rats (Rattus norvegicus): Effects of different experiential histories.Journal of Comparative Psychology, 100, 229-236.
  • Renner, M. J., & Seltzer, C. P. (1991). Molar Characteristics of Exploratory and Investigatory Behavior in the Rat (Rattus norvegicus).Journal of Comparative Psychology, 105(4), 326-339.
  • Roberts, G. (1995). A real-time response of vigilance behaviour to changes in group size.Animal Behaviour, 51, 1371-1374.
  • Roberts, G. (1996). Why individual vigilance declines as group size increases.Animal Behaviour, 51, 1077-1086.
  • Siviy, S. M., & Baliko, C. N. (2000). A further characterization of alpha-2 adrenoceptor involvement in the rough-and-tumble play of juvenile rats.Developmental Psychobiology, 37, 24-34.
  • Siviy, S. M., Harrison, K. A., & McGregor, I. S. (2006). Fear, Risk Assessment, and Playfulness in the Juvenile Rat.Behavioral Neuroscience, 120(1), 49-59.
  • Špinka, M., Newberry, R. C., & Bekoff, M. (2001). Mammalian Play: Training for the Unexpected.The Quaterly Review of Biology, 76(2), 141-168.
  • Stamps, J. (1995). Motor learning and the value of familiar space.American Naturalist, 146, 41-58.
  • Vanderschuren, L. J. M. J., Niesnik, R. J. M., Spruijt, B. M., & Van Ree, J. M. (1995). Influence of environmental factors on social play behavior of juvenile rats.Physiology and Behavior, 58, 119-123.
  • Vanderschuren, L. J. M. J., Niesnik, R. J. M., & Van Ree, J. M. (1997). The Neurobiology of Social Play Behavior in Rats.Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 21(3), 309-326.
  • Wood-Gush, D. G. M., & Vestergaard, K. S. (1991). The seeking of novelty and its relation to play.Animal Behaviour, 42, 599-606.

Document Type

Publication order reference


CEJSH db identifier

YADDA identifier

JavaScript is turned off in your web browser. Turn it on to take full advantage of this site, then refresh the page.