Meeting Abstract

S6-4  Friday, Jan. 6 10:00 - 10:30  Neurobiology of Mate Choice and Social Recognition in Rodents, CHOLERIS, E*; KAVALIERS, M; University of Guelph; University of Western Ontario

Mate choice is a complex and flexible process that is context specific, and affected by various social factors (e.g. own or others’ health/pathogen status, mate choice of others – “mate-choice copying”). Mate choice involves the acquisition and cognitive processing of information about others (i.e. social recognition) as well as information originating from others (i.e. social learning), accompanied by the exploitation and application of that information in subsequent decision making. In rodents odors are particularly important determinants of social behavior and mate choice, providing information on species, sex, individual and class identity and kinship of the owner, as well as information on an individual’s current reproductive, social, health and infection status. Odor-driven mate choice involves a very quick detection and recognition of potential partners and a similarly very quick neurohormonal mediation of the behavioral and physiological responses to them. These rapid responses involve a variety of neurobiological regulatory mechanisms associated with social recognition and social learning. These includes evolutionarily conserved neurotransmitters, opioid systems, sex steroid hormones (testosterone and, in particular, estrogens), nonapeptide systems (oxytocin, arginine-vasopressin) and their receptors. As these neuromodulatory systems and responses are dynamic and vary between individuals this allows for substantial environmental and social influences on the expression of the appetitive and consumatory components of mate choice. Supported by NSERC