Social behaviors and acoustic vocalizations in different strains of mice

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Proposing a framework for the study of core functions is valuable for understanding how they are altered in multiple mental disorders involving prefrontal dysfunction, for understanding genetic influences and for testing therapeutic compounds. Social and communication disabilities are reported in several major psychiatric disorders, and social communication disorders also can occur independently. Being able to study social communication involving interactions and associated acoustic vocalizations in animal models is thus important. All rodents display extensive social behaviors, including interactions and acoustic vocalizations. It is therefore important to pinpoint potential genetic-related strain differences −and similarities- in social behavior and vocalization. One approach is to compare different mouse strains, and this may be useful in choosing which strains may be best suitable in modeling psychiatric disorders where social and communication deficits are core symptoms.

We compared social behavior and ultrasonic acoustic vocalization profiles in males of four mouse strains (129S2/Sv, C57BL/6J, DBA/2, and CD-1) using a social interaction task that we previously showed to rely on prefrontal network activity.

Our social interaction task promotes a high level of ultrasonic vocalization with both social and acoustic parameters, and further allows other measures of social behaviors. The duration of social contact, dominance and aggressiveness varied with the mouse strains. Only C57BL/6J mice showed no attacks, with social contact being highly affiliative, whereas others strains emitted aggressive attacks. C57BL/6J mice also exhibited a significantly higher rate of ultrasonic vocalizations (USV), especially during social interaction.

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