Meeting Abstract

P1.17  Saturday, Jan. 4 15:30  Dopaminergic Regulation of Social Competence in a Cichlid Fish NGUYEN, J.M.*; WEITEKAMP, C.A.; HOFMANN, H.A.; Univ. of Texas, Austin ; Univ. of Texas, Austin ; Univ. of Texas, Austin

Social competence (the ability to evaluate and respond to a wide variety of social cues) allows individuals to optimize their behavior based on the available social information. Although the fitness consequences are understood, little is known about the neural and molecular basis of social competence. Previous studies have shown that the dopamine system plays a central role in the context-dependent modulation of social behavior and in encoding salience and rewarding properties of social stimuli. We use the African cichlid fish, Astatotilapia burtoni, a model system in social neuroscience, to examine how dopamine D2 receptor pathways regulate decision-making across different social contexts. After repeated exposure to either a territorial male, a gravid female, or a non-gravid female, a large conspecific intruder is added to the tank of a focal territorial male. In each context, the focal male was treated with either D2 agonist, D2 antagonist, or saline. We found that social context has a significant effect on aggressive displays to the intruder, where focal males habituated to another male or to a gravid female displayed high levels of aggression compared to males habituated to a non-gravid female. In the context of a familiar male, D2 agonist treatment caused aggressive displays to be redirected from the intruder to the familiar male whereas the D2 antagonist had no significant effect. In the context of a gravid female, D2 antagonist treatment inhibited aggressive displays to the intruder while the D2 agonist had no effect. These results show that D2 signaling has opposing effects across social contexts and provide insight into our understanding of the role of dopamine in regulating social competence.