Early experiences produce persistent changes in brain and behavioral function. We investigate whether being reared in a communal nest (CN), a form of early social enrichment that characterizes the natural ecological niche of many rodent species including the mouse, has effects on adult social/aggressive behavior and nerve growth factor (NGF) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels in mice.
The CN consisted of a single nest where three mothers kept their pups together and shared care-giving behavior from birth to weaning (postnatal day 25).
Compared to standard laboratory conditions, in CN condition, mouse mothers displayed higher levels of maternal care. At adulthood, CN mice displayed higher propensity to interact socially and achieved more promptly the behavioral profile of either dominant or subordinate male. Furthermore, CN adult mice showed higher NGF levels, which were further affected by social status, and higher BDNF levels in the brain.
Our findings indicate that CN, a highly stimulating early social environment, produces differences in social behavior later in life associated with marked changes of neurotrophin levels in selected brain areas, including hippocampus and hypothalamus.
To read this article in full you will need to make a payment
Purchase one-time access:Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
One-time access price info
- For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
- For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'
Subscribe:Subscribe to Biological Psychiatry
Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
Already an online subscriber? Sign in
Register: Create an account
Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect
- Assessment of aggressive behaviour in rodents.in: Conn M.P. Methods in Neuroscience. 14. Academic Press, New York1993: 111-137
- Physiological roles of nerve growth factor in adult rodents: A biobehavioral perspective.Int J Comp Psychol. 1989; 2: 147-163
- Aggressive behavior induces release of nerve growth factor from mouse salivary gland into the bloodstream.Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1986; 83: 6184-6187
- Social stress induces glucocorticoid resistance in subordinate animals.Horm Behav. 2001; 39: 247-257
Bautista A, Martínez-Gómez M, Hudson R (in press): Mother-young and within-litter relations in the European rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus. In: Célio Alves P, Hackländer K, editors. Lagomorph Biology: Evolution, Ecology and Conservation.
- Developmental pathways from child maltreatment to peer rejection.Child Dev. 2001; 72: 549-568
- Effects on behaviour of disruption of an affectional bond.Eugen Soc Symp. 1968; 4: 94-108
- Epigenetic control of neurobehavioural plasticity: The role of neurotrophins.Behav Pharmacol. 2004; 15: 353-362
- Maternal care during infancy regulates the development of neural systems mediating the expression of fearfulness in the rat.Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1998; 95: 5335-5340
- Parental bonding and mental health in adolescence.Adolescence. 1997; 32: 381-394
- Is mood chemistry?.Nat Rev Neurosci. 2005; 6: 241-246
- Early disruption of the mother-infant relationship: Effects on brain plasticity and implications for psychopathology.Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2003; 27: 73-82
- Mechanisms underlying epigenetic effects of early social experience: The role of neuropeptides and steroids.Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2005; 29: 1089-1105
- Social information-processing patterns partially mediate the effect of early physical abuse on later conduct problems.J Abnorm Psychol. 1995; 104: 632-643
- Childhood abuse, household dysfunction, and the risk of attempted suicide throughout the life span: Findings from the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study.JAMA. 2001; 286: 3089-3096
- Agonistic encounters in aged male mouse potentiate the expression of endogenous brain NGF and BDNF: Possible implication for brain progenitor cells’ activation.Eur J Neurosci. 2003; 17: 1455-1464
- American Psychiatric Association, Amsterdam1996 DSM-IV. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. 4th ed.
- Allostatic load, social status and stress hormones: The costs of social status matter.Anim Behav. 2004; 67: 591-602
- Changes in plasma nerve growth factor levels in older adults associated with chronic stress.J Neuroimmunol. 2001; 116: 102-106
- The nature of love.Am Psychol. 1958; 13: 537-685
- To nest communally or not to nest communally: A review of rodent communal nesting and nursing.Anim Behav. 2000; 59: 677-688
- The mother-infant interaction as a regulator of infant physiology and behavior.in: Rosenblum L.A. Moltz H. Symbiosis in Parent-Offspring Interactions. Vol 104. Plenum Press, New York1983: 61-75
- Relationships as regulators: A psychobiologic perspective on bereavement.Psychosom Med. 1984; 46: 183-197
- 2005: 6 (International Conference of Ethology Conference Proceedings, August 20–27, 2005. Budapest, Hungary:Keszult a Codex Print Nyomdaban) The contribution of sibling relations to the emergence of individual behavioural phenotypes.
- Aggressive behavior in adult male mice elevates serum nerve growth factor levels.Am J Physiol. 1986; 250: E386-E392
- Sibling effects on the behavior of infant mouse litters (Mus domesticus).J Comp Psychol. 1995; 109: 68-75
- The developmental psychobiology of behavioural plasticity in mice: The role of social experiences in the family unit.Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 1998; 23: 197-213
- Infantile experience and resistance to physiological stress.Science. 1957; 126: 405
- Maternal care, hippocampal synaptogenesis and cognitive development in rats.Nat Neurosci. 2000; 3: 799-806
- Maternal care, hippocampal glucocorticoid receptors, and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal responses to stress.Science. 1997; 277: 1659-1662
- Single episode of maternal deprivation and adult depressive profile in mice: Interaction with cannabinoid exposure during adolescence.Behav Brain Res. 2004; 154: 231-238
- Social status and nerve growth factor serum levels after agonistic encounters in mice.Physiol Behav. 1990; 47: 161-164
- Neurotrophins and synaptic plasticity.Annu Rev Neurosci. 1999; 22: 295-318
- Protective and damaging effects of stress mediators.N Engl J Med. 1998; 338: 171-179
- Maternal care, gene expression, and the transmission of individual differences in stress reactivity across generations.Annu Rev Neurosci. 2001; 24: 1161-1192
- Parental care, sibling relationships and the development of aggressive behaviour in two lines of wild house mice.Behavior. 1990; 116: 90-108
- Litter composition affects parental care, offspring growth, and the development of aggressive behaviour in wild house mice.Behavior. 1990; 116: 11-41
- Early social and physical deprivation leads to reduced social motivation in adulthood in Wistar rats.Behav Brain Res. 2005; 156: 311-320
- Cytokine and growth factor involvement in schizophrenia--support for the developmental model.Mol Psychiatry. 2000; 5: 594-603
- Parental representations of patients with anxiety.Acta Psychiatr Scand. 1981; 63: 33-36
- Long-term effects of the periadolescent environment on exploratory activity and aggressive behaviour in mice: Social versus physical enrichment.Physiol Behav. 2004; 81: 443-453
- Experience-dependent affective learning and risk for psychopathology in children.Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2003; 1008: 102-111
- Post-natal repeated maternal deprivation produces age-dependent changes of brain-derived neurotrophic factor expression in selected rat brain regions.Biol Psychiatry. 2004; 55: 708-714
- Early maternal deprivation reduces the expression of BDNF and NMDA receptor subunits in rat hippocampus.Mol Psychiatry. 2002; 7: 609-616
- The role of child maltreatment in early deviations in cognitive and affective processing abilities and later peer relationship problems.Dev Psychopathol. 1995; 7: 591-609
- Effects of differential experience on the brain and behavior.Dev Neuropsychol. 2003; 24: 523-540
- Feelings of parental care predict health status in midlife: A 35 year follow-up of the Harvard Mastery of Stress Study.J Behav Med. 1997; 20: 1-13
- Integrating nature and nurture: Implications of person-environment correlations and interactions for developmental psychopathology.Dev Psychopathol. 1997; 9: 335-364
- Enriched environment and acceleration of visual system development.Neuropharmacology. 2004; 47: 649-660
- The influence of social hierarchy on primate health.Science. 2005; 308: 648-652
- An ethological analysis of communal nursing by the house mouse (Mus musculus).Behavior. 1971; 40: 60-85
- Evidence for a relationship between genetic variants at the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) locus and major depression.Biol Psychiatry 2005. 2005; 58: 307-314
- Stress and glucocorticoids affect the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor and neurotrophin-3 mRNAs in the hippocampus.J Neurosci. 1995; 15: 1768-1777
- Peers, play and primary prevention in primates.in: Kent M. Rolf J. Primary Prevention of Psychopathology: Social Competence in Children. Press of New England, Hanover, New Hampshire1979: 127-149
- Mother-infant attachment, peer relationships, and the development of social networks in rhesus monkeys.Hum Dev. 2005; 48: 67-79
- Individual differences in mouse behavioural development: Effects of precocious weaning and ongoing sexual segregation.Anim Behav. 1995; 50: 1261-1271
- The developmental impact of different forms of child abuse and neglect.Dev Rev. 1995; 15: 311-337
- Immobilization stress reduced the expression of neurotrophins and their receptors in the rat brain.Neurosci Res. 1997; 28: 103-110
Published online: March 15, 2006
Accepted: January 3, 2006
Received in revised form: January 2, 2006
Received: October 7, 2005
© 2006 Society of Biological Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.