Juvenile social experience and differential age-related changes in the dendritic morphologies of subareas of the prefrontal cortex in rats

Brett T. Himmler, Richelle Mychasiuk, Ayuno Nakahashi, Stephanie M. Himmler, Sergio M. Pellis, Bryan Kolb

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6 Citations (Scopus)


Juvenile social interactions have been shown to influence the dendritic complexity of neurons in the prefrontal cortex (PFC). In particular, social play induces pruning of the cells in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), whereas interacting with multiple partners, whether those interactions involve play or not, increases the complexity of cells in the orbital frontal cortex (OFC). Previous studies suggest that these changes differ in their stability during adulthood. In the present study, rats were reared in groups of either four (quads) or two (pairs) and the brains of the rats from each rearing condition were then harvested at 60 days (i.e., shortly after sexual maturity) and 100 days (i.e., fully adult). The rats housed with multiple partners had more complex neurons of the OFC at 60 days and this complexity declined to a comparable level to that of pair housed rats by 100 days. In contrast, the play-induced changes of the mPFC remained similar at both ages. These findings suggest that the changes in the PFC induced by different social experiences in the juvenile period differ in how long they are maintained in adulthood. Differences in the functions regulated by the OFC and the mPFC are considered with regard to these differences in the stability of juvenile-induced neural changes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere22022
Number of pages9
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • dendritic morphology
  • play
  • spine density
  • synaptic plasticity

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