Exposure to familiar versus novel conspecifics is associated with differential activity of oxytocin circuits
Blaza, R. C. (2015). Exposure to familiar versus novel conspecifics is associated with differential activity of oxytocin circuits (Thesis, Master of Science (MSc)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/9968
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/9968
Oxytocin (OT) signalling has been shown to be significantly involved in the regulation of social behaviour, particularly in regards to pro-sociality. Familiarity with another conspecific is a major modifier of social behaviour. Here we investigated whether exposure to a familiar versus novel conspecific was associated with differential activity in OT neuronal circuits. We placed male mice in a chamber with a restrainer containing either a familiar or novel conspecific, with an empty restrainer as a control. Immunhistochemical analysis following this exposure showed greater activation of OT neurons in the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) and supraoptic nucleus (SON) of the hypothalamus in response to exposure to a familiar conspecific, which was not found to occur in response to exposure to a novel or unfamiliar conspecific. Furthermore, there is increased general neuronal activation in the medial posterior amygdala in response to a familiar, but not novel, conspecific, and increased general neuronal activation in the medial anterior amygdala to exposure to both familiar and novel conspecifics, but the magnitude of this activation is significantly greater in response to the familiar conspecific. To substantiate the claim of a relationship between familiarity and OT, we injected male mice with the OT receptor (OT-R) antagonist L-368,899 and placed them in a scenario where they could choose to spend time in a chamber with a trapped conspecific or a chamber with a palatable tastant. OT-R antagonism reduced time spent with a familiar, but not novel conspecific. We conclude that familiarity and social context result in differences in OT neuronal activity and OT signalling.
University of Waikato
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