The frequency of playful attack and the style of playful defense, are modifiable by gonadal steroids and change after puberty in male and female rats. The present study examined the play behavior exhibited by testicular feminized mutation (tfm)-affected males, who are insensitive to androgens but can bind estrogens aromatized from androgens, to determine the relative contributions of androgens and estrogens to the age-related changes in play behavior. tfm males did not exhibit a decrease in playful attack with age and were more likely to maintain the use of complete rotations, a juvenile form of playful defense, into adulthood. tfm males did however, show age related changes in the use of partial rotations and upright postures, two other forms of playful defense, that were similar to normal males. These data suggest that the development of play fighting and defense in males is dependent on both androgen- and estrogen-receptor-mediated effects.
(c) 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Dev Psyshobiol 48: 111-120, 2006.