Conditions d'élevage et performances : contribution à l'étude de l'influence des facteurs environnementaux sur les comportements individuels et sociaux du rat de souche Wistar

Abstract : For half a century a model (environmental impoverishment Vs enrichment) has been used to examine, mostly in rodents, the modifications triggered by various rearing conditions. It has been shown that these conditions produce biological as well as behavioral changes. Yet, there are many insufficiences, which are highlighted in a detailed theoritical methodological review. To improve this experimental model, the study focuses on the behavioral influences of an enriched environment compared with standard rearing conditions of laboratory rats. To achieve this, individual performances of the subjects were evaluated with exploration, anxiety and learning tests. Results show that rats reared in a more stimulating environment are more active than their standard counterparts. This behavioral reactivity can be attributed to a better adaptibility to novelty, but it also shows enhanced cognitive abilities. In addition, rats were confronted with a situation of social differentiation, in which emerged roles based around the capacity to get food. The confrontation of rats from the same rearing condition leads to a similar role pattern. Yet, the confrontation of rats from both rearing conditions greatly changes the role differentiation : standard rats tend to become food suppliers whereas enriched rats become mostly stealers. This role segragation may be attributed to the difference in the space available in rearing cages, and to the interactions engendered. In short it is apparent that a period spent in an enriched environment not only enables to improve rats' individual performances, but also that it has an effect on social interactions. The consequences of more stimulating rearing conditions are examined, and extrapolatory perspectives are discussed.
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Jean-Louis Warin. Conditions d'élevage et performances : contribution à l'étude de l'influence des facteurs environnementaux sur les comportements individuels et sociaux du rat de souche Wistar. Psychologie. Université Nancy 2, 2002. Français. ⟨NNT : 2002NAN21023⟩. ⟨tel-01776525⟩

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