Exploring the neurobiological mechanisms of social behavior requires behavioral tests that can be applied to animal models in an unbiased and observer-independent manner. Since the beginning of the millennium, the three-chamber test has been widely used as a standard paradigm to evaluate sociability (social preference) and social novelty preference in small rodents. However, this test suffers from multiple limitations, including its dependence on spatial navigation and negligence of behavioral dynamics. Presented and validated here is a novel experimental system that offers an alternative to the three-chamber test, while also solving some of its caveats. The system requires a simple and affordable experimental apparatus and publicly available open-source analysis system, which automatically measures and analyzes multiple behavioral parameters at individual and population levels. It allows detailed analysis of the behavioral dynamics of small rodents during any social discrimination test. We demonstrate the efficiency of the system in analyzing the dynamics of social behavior during the social preference and social novelty preference tests as performed by adult male mice and rats. Moreover, we validate the ability of the system to reveal modified dynamics of social behavior in rodents following manipulations such as whisker trimming. Thus, the system allows for rigorous investigation of social behavior and dynamics in small rodent models and supports more accurate comparisons between strains, conditions, and treatments.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by The Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP grant RGP0019/2015), the Israel Science Foundation (ISF grants #1350/12, 1361/17), by the Milgrom Foundation and by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Space of Israel (Grant #3-12068).
© 2019 Journal of Visualized Experiments.
- Behavioral dynamics
- Behavioral tracking
- Issue 153
- Social behavior
- Social investigation
- Social novelty preference
- Social preference
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuroscience (all)
- Chemical Engineering (all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (all)
- Immunology and Microbiology (all)