Prof. Louk Vanderschuren

All Work and No Play: Studying the Neural Mechanisms of Social Play Behaviour in Rats

In between weaning and puberty, the young of many mammalian species, including rats and humans, display a characteristic form of social interaction known as social play behaviour. Social play behaviour is highly rewarding and of great importance for social and cognitive development. Despite its abundance and importance, however, the neural underpinnings of social play are incompletely understood. In this lecture, I will present recent advances in our understanding of the neural mechanisms of social play behaviour in rats.


Prof. Louk Vanderschuren obtained a MSc degree in Medical Biology (1990) and a PhD degree (1994) at Utrecht University. As a post-doctoral fellow, he studied the neurobiology of drug addiction at the VU University Amsterdam and the University of Cambridge. In 2010 he was appointed professor of Behavioural Neuroscience at Utrecht University. His research deals with the neurobiology of social behavior, impulsive behavior, decision making and substance addiction. Research topics include the brain mechanisms underlying loss of control over substance intake in the development of addiction, the neurobehavioral commonalities and differences between substance and food addiction, and the relationship between cognitive impairments and addictive behavior. He investigates how delays, uncertainty and the expectancy of negative consequences modulate food choice, using sophisticated rodent models of decision making and impulse control.

Other speakers