Long-lasting consequences of a social conflict in rats: Behavior during the interaction predicts subsequent changes in daily rhythms of heart rate, temperature, and activity

Meerlo, P., Sgoifo, A., de Boer, S. F. & Koolhaas, J. M., 1999, In : Behavioral Neuroscience. 113, p. 1283-1290 8 p.

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This study shows that the long-term consequences of a social conflict in rats do not depend on the physical intensity of the fight in terms of aggression received but, especially, on how the subjects deal with it. Experimental rats were introduced into the cage of an aggressive conspecific for I hr, and the effects on daily rhythms of heart rate, body temperature, and activity thereafter were measured by means of telemetry In some rats, the confrontation caused a strong decrease in the daily rhythm amplitude that lasted up to 3 weeks, whereas other subjects showed only minor changes. The changes in rhythm amplitude did not correlate with the number of attacks received from the territory owner. Contrary to this, the changes showed a clear negative correlation with the aggression of the experimental rats themselves. Subjects fighting back and counterattacking the cage owner subsequently had a smaller reduction in rhythm amplitude.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1283-1290
Number of pages8
JournalBehavioral Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • stress, stress sensitivity, stress response, stress pathology, resident-intruder paradigm, aggression, social stress, social conflict, social defeat, individual differences, coping, coping style, circadian rhythms, daily rhythms, radiotelemetry, heart rate, body temperature, activity

ID: 3837621