The early presence of food-oriented appetitive behavior in developing rats.
The appetitive behavior of 3- to 6-day-old rat pups was studied by testing their ability to direct their ingestive behavior to a restricted food source. We found that, from 3 days of age, pups were able to feed efficiently from such a source. More specifically, pups that were deprived of nutrition but not of maternal care as well as pups that were dehydrated ingested significantly more than nondeprived animals, and did so whether liquid diet was spread over the entire floor surface beneath them or restricted to a fraction of the floor surface. However, pups that had been nutritionally and maternally deprived were not able to direct their feeding. The general locomotor activation of pups in this latter group appeared to interfere with their ability to direct their behavior to the restricted source. These results indicate that from early ages, developing rats possess the appetitive competence to guide their behavior and suggest that previous findings of poorly directed behavior were a confound of the behavioral activation shown by pups tested in a state of maternal deprivation.
Phifer, CB; Denzinger, A; Hall, WG
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