Mice and rats are widely used to explore mechanisms of mammalian social behavior in health and disease, raising the question whether they actually differ in their social behavior. Here we address this question by directly comparing social investigation behavior between two mouse and rat strains used most frequently for behavioral studies and as models of neuropathological conditions: C57BL/6 J mice and Sprague Dawley (SD) rats. Employing novel experimental systems for behavioral analysis of both subjects and stimuli during the social preference test, we reveal marked differences in behavioral dynamics between the strains, suggesting stronger and faster induction of social motivation in SD rats. These different behavioral patterns, which correlate with distinctive c-Fos expression in social motivation-related brain areas, are modified by competition with non-social rewarding stimuli, in a strain-specific manner. Thus, these two strains differ in their social behavior, which should be taken into consideration when selecting an appropriate model organism.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was supported by the Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP grant RGP0019/ 2015 to V.G. and S.W.), the German Research Foundation (DFG) grants GR 3619/16-1 (to V.G. and S.W.), 3619/7-1, GR 3619/8-1, GR 3619/13-1, GR 3619/15-1, and DFG within the Collaborative research Center SFB 1158-2, Fritz Thyssen foundation Ref. 10.19.1.015MN to V.G., the Israel Science Foundation (ISF grants #1350/12, 1361/17), the Ministry of Science, Technology and Space of Israel (Grant #3-12068), a joint grant of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Space of Israel and the Ministries of Europe and Foreign Affairs (MEAE) and of Higher Education, Research and Innovation (MESRI) of France (Grant #3-16545), and a donation of the Milgrom Family to S.W. The authors thank Thomas Splettstoesser (www.scistyle.com) for his help with the preparation of figures.
© 2020, The Author(s).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Chemistry (all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (all)
- Physics and Astronomy (all)