Volume 6: pp. 5-23

Social Influences on Rat Spatial Choice

by Michael F. Brown,
Villanova University

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Although there is abundant evidence for social learning and other forms of social influence on behavior, relatively little experimental analysis of the mechanisms involved is available. The present paper reviews a line of research examining social influences on spatial choice in the context of spatial working memory paradigms using pairs of laboratory rats foraging together for food. There is a social affiliation effect – rats are attracted to spatial locations if a familiar conspecific is there. However, there is a countervailing tendency to avoid visits to spatial locations that were previously depleted of food by the other rat. The latter effect is based on working memory for the choices made previously by the other rat. The memories for the previous choices of another rat can affect subsequent choices flexibly, either increasing or decreasing choice tendencies depending on working memory for the contents of spatial locations resulting from the rat’s own visits to the location.

Keywords: social memory, social learning, working memory, spatial memory

Brown, M. F. (2011). Social Influences on Rat Spatial Choice. Comparative Cognition & Behavior Reviews, 6, 5-23. Retrieved from http://comparative-cognition-and-behavior-reviews.org/ doi:10.3819/ccbr.2011.60003