Socially-induced brain 'fertilization': play promotes brain derived neurotrophic factor transcription in the amygdala and dorsolateral frontal cortex in juvenile rats

Neurosci Lett. 2003 Apr 24;341(1):17-20. doi: 10.1016/s0304-3940(03)00158-7.


Rough and tumble (R&T) play is assumed to have beneficial effects in developing organisms. To evaluate this idea, brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene expression was evaluated in 32-day-old juvenile rats that were allowed to play for 30 min prior to sacrifice. In situ hybridization for BDNF mRNA revealed that the amygdala and dorsolateral frontal cortex had significantly elevated BDNF mRNA expression as a result of play. These effects suggest that play may help program higher brain regions involved in emotional behaviors.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Amygdala / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / biosynthesis*
  • Frontal Lobe / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology
  • Male
  • Play and Playthings*
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Social Behavior


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • RNA, Messenger