Arousal, but not nursing, is necessary to elicit a decreased fear reaction toward humans in rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) pups

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16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Rabbits that are handled at the time of feeding during the first week postpartum show reduced fear of humans later in their lives as compared to unhandled controls. Effective handling has been shown to be confined to a sensitive period. Our study aimed to investigate if feeding itself (provided by a second doe, 6 hr after the standard nursing time) affects the levels of fear of humans later in life. Our results showed that (a) the prenursing state of excitement is only characteristic of the standard nursing and is not elicited by a second feeding 6 hr past the usual nursing time, repeated daily across the first week postpartum; and (b) handling linked to a second feeding 6 hr after the standard nursing does not reduce fear responses toward humans at weaning. We conclude that the aroused state, per se, is essential for the reduction of a rabbit's fear response toward humans provoked by early handling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)192-199
Number of pages8
JournalDevelopmental Psychobiology
Volume43
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 22 2003

Keywords

  • Anticipatory arousal
  • Early learning
  • Nursing
  • Oryctolagus cuniculus
  • Rabbit
  • Sensitive period

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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