Play as a reinforcer for maze-learning in juvenile rats
Abstract The reinforcing value of play for juvenile rats was examined, relative to that of other social experiences. Successive experimental groups chose, in a T-maze, between normal companions and companions whose social behaviour had been rendered abnormal by physical confinement or by amphetamine or chlorpromazine treatment. Both these drugs inhibited play, as did physical restriction, but they had opposing effects on other social behaviours, so that the choice presented was between social experiences with and without play. Young rats learnt these social discriminations as easily as a food/no food discrimination in the same apparatus, developing a preference for the playing partner. Non-playing partners indulging in large amounts of amicable social behaviour were chosen more frequently than unsociable animals.