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Waving Through the Window: A Model of Volitional Social Interaction in Female Mice

Published:November 09, 2021DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2021.10.023

      Abstract

      Background

      Mouse models of social behavior fail to account for volitional aspects of social interaction, and current neurobiological investigation of social behavior is performed almost exclusively using C57BL/6J mice, the background strain of most transgenic mice. Here, we introduce a mouse model of operant social self-administration and choice, using a custom-made apparatus.

      Methods

      First, we trained adolescent and adult female C57BL/6J and CD1 mice to self-administer palatable food pellets and then to lever press under increasing fixed-ratio response requirements for access to an age-matched female social partner. Next, we tested their motivation to seek social interaction using a progressive ratio reinforcement schedule, relapse to social seeking after social isolation, and choice between palatable food versus social interaction. We also tested social conditioned place preference in adult female CD1 and C57BL/6J mice.

      Results

      Adolescent and adult female mice of both strains showed similar rates of food self-administration. In contrast, CD1 mice demonstrated significantly stronger social self-administration than C57BL/6J mice under both reinforcement schedules. CD1 but not C57BL/6J mice demonstrated robust social seeking after social isolation. In the choice task, CD1 mice preferred social interaction, whereas C57BL/6J mice preferred food. CD1 but not C57BL/6J mice demonstrated robust social conditioned place preference. The strain differences were age independent.

      Conclusions

      Our data show that CD1 mice are a better strain for studying female social reward learning. Our mouse operant social model provides a tool for research on neurobiological substrates of female social reward and disruption of social reward in psychiatric disorders using mouse-specific genetic tools.

      Keywords

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