Campus Directory: Sergio Pellis

University of Lethbridge

Sergio Pellis
Cdn Ctr for Behavioural Neuroscience (CCBN)
Office: EP1256 (Exploration Place)
Phone: (403) 329-2078
Fax: (403) 329-2775


B.Sc. (Hons.) (Zoology and Genetics); Diploma of Education; Ph.D. (Zoology/Ethology)


Development of behaviour, Social interactions, Organization of movement, Brain mechanisms in social cognition

Research Areas

The role of play fighting experience in juvenile rats to the development of the social brain, A comparative analysis of the organization of play fighting and its evolution in the order Primates, The rules minimizing neural computation time in the orchestration of organized sequences of movements, A cybernetic analysis of combat in non-human animals

Previous Research Areas

The organization of posture in animal models of parkinsonism, The development of postural mechanisms, The role of postural mechanisms in regulating organized sequences of movement in people with Parkinsonís disease, The comparative analysis of play fighting in rodents, The endocrinological bases for the development of play fighting in rats and the differential expression of this behaviour between the sexes, The role of visual signals in facilitating play fighting in primates, The brain mechanisms underlying the regulation of play fighting in rats

Alternate Languages


Selected Publications

Reinhart, C. J., Metz, G., McIntyre, D. C., & Pellis, S. M. (2006). Play fighting between kindling-prone (FAST) and kindling-resistant (SLOW) rats. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 120: 19-30.

Pellis, S. M., Hastings, E., Shimizu, T., Kamitakahara, H., Komorowska, J., Forgie M. L. & Kolb, B. (2006). The effects of orbital frontal cortex damage on the modulation of defensive responses by rats in playful and non-playful social contexts. Behavioral Neuroscience, 120: 72-84.

Pellis, S. M., & Pellis, V. C. (2006). Play and the development of social engagement: A comparative perspective. In: P. J. Marshall & N. A. Fox, (Eds.), The Development of Social Engagement: Neurobiological Perspectives (pp. 247-274). Oxford University Press; Oxford, UK.

Kamitakahara, H., Monfils, M.-H., Forgie, M. L., Kolb, B. & Pellis, S. M. (2007). The modulation of play fighting in rats: Role of the motor cortex. Behavioral Neuroscience, 121: 164-176.

Pellis, S. M. & Pellis, V. C. (2007). Rough and tumble play and the development of the social brain. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 16: 95-98.

Lingle, S., Rendall, D. & Pellis, S. M. (2007). Altruism and recognition in the antipredator defence of deer: I. Species and individual variation in fawn distress calls. Animal Behaviour, 73: 897-905.

Lingle, S., Rendall, D., Wilson, W. F., Deyoung, R. W. & Pellis, S. M. (2007). Altruism and recognition in the antipredator defence of deer: II. Why mule deer help non-offspring fawns. Animal Behaviour,73: 907-916.

Field, E. F. & Pellis, S. M. (2008). The brain as the engine of sex differences in the organization of movement in rats. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 37: 30-42.

Ellis, L., Hershberger, S., Field, E. F., Wersinger, S., Pellis, S. M., Geary, D., Palmer, C., Hoyenga, K., Hetsroni, A., & Karadi, K. (2008). Sex Differences: Summarizing more than a Century of Scientific Research. Psychology Press (formerly Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., Publishers); Hillsdale, NJ.

In The Media

CCBN Researchers - A"head" of the Game; Legend; November 2001.

Current Research and Creative Activity

TitleLocationGrant InformationPrincipal InvestigatorCo Researchers
Brain-behaviour relationships in the development of social behaviour in rats Lethbridge, AB NSERC, $43,134.00, 2008-13.

S. Pellis, University of Lethbridge Bryan Kolb, University of Lethbridge; Various collaborators
How perceptions guide behaviour (involves using a variety of animals including rats, fish, arthropods, and pigs with data mostly collected in Lethbridge, but some collected at other locations (e.g., San Diego Zoo) Various locations S. Pellis, University of Lethbridge (data analyzed in Lethbridge) Bill Cade, University of Lethbridge; Various collaborators
The evolution of social play in primates Various locations; (e.g., zoos, primate research centers) around the world S. Pellis, University of Lethbridge (data analyzed in Lethbridge) Bernard Thierry, University of Louis Pasteur, Strabourg, France; Various collaborators

Previous Research

TitleGrant AgencyCompletion Date
Play as a Tool for Social Assessment and Manipulation NSERC 2003-08
Competing to Cooperate: Developing a Social Brain NSERC 2008-13

Curriculum Vitae


Internet Links


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