A Dynamic Psychoneural Analysis of Offense Behavior in the Rat
I. Introduction and Background Page 1

Title Page and Summary


I. Introduction and Background
Page 1


II. The Static Model
Pages 2 - 3


III. The Dynamic Model
Pages 4 - 5 - 6


IV. Future Work
Page 7


Figures 1-6
Pages 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13


Page 14

Research has reached a point that is now becoming possible to understand the minute-by-minute and second-by-second social behavior of an animal in terms of the neural processing of stimulus inputs, motivational mechanisms and motor pattern outputs. In the following paper I will analyze real data from the fighting behavior of laboratory rats in terms of a motivational system of offense which corresponds to the brain mechanisms of social behavior in the male laboratory rat.


The basic data are simple. As documented by many researchers including the present author (Lehman and Adams, 1977; Adams, 1981), the basic sequence of acts and postures during offensive attack is simple and stereotyped. The offensive rat approaches the opponent, engages in offensive sideways posture and/or offensive upright posture, then in the full aggressive posture, and finally (if the attack is strong) in a bite-and-kick attack. Following the bite-and-kick, there may be a refractory period of several minutes during which no further attack occurs. The entire sequence may last from several seconds to several minutes in duration depending upon the strength of offense motivation in the attacking animal and the defensive/submissive tactics of the opponent.

Four variations of attack are shown in Figure 1. A very strong attack is shown in Figure lA: the attacking animal simply runs towards the opponent, leaps on it, bites and kicks, and continues attacking until the opponent runs away. A moderately strong attack against a weak opponent is shown in Figure lB; the attack progresses through various acts and postures and culminates in a bite-and-kick attack followed by a refractory period. A moderately strong attack against a strong opponent is shown in Figure lC: the opponent engages in defensive upright posture which keeps the offensive animal from getting into the proper position for a bite-and-kick attack. Finally, a weak attack is shown in Figure ID: this type of attack does not progress beyond the full aggressive posture (or the offensive sideways posture) and does not culminate in a bite-and- kick attack. The time course depends upon the strong of offensive motivation.

A strong attack occurs in only a few seconds and is repeated rapidly. A moderate attack occurs during several minutes, depending upon the effectiveness of the opponent's defense or submissive postures. Weak attacks are variable, ranging from a brief approach and full aggressive posture to many minutes of offensive sideways posture.

previous page
home page
next page