Social Involvement Modulates the Response to Novel and Adverse Life Events in Mice

Colnaghi, Luca; Clemenza, Kelly; Groleau, Sarah E.; Weiss, Shira; Lopez-Rosas, Mariana; Snyder, Anna M.; Levine, Amir A.

Epidemiological findings suggest that social involvement plays a major role in establishing resilience to adversity, however, the neurobiology by which social involvement confers protection is not well understood. Hypothesizing that social involvement confers resilience by changing the way adverse life events are encoded, we designed a series of behavioral tests in mice that utilize the presence or absence of conspecific cage mates in measuring response to novel and adverse events. We found that the presence of cage mates increased movement after exposure to a novel environment, increased time spent in the open arms of the elevated plus maze, and decreased freezing time after a foot shock as well as expedited fear extinction, therefore significantly changing the response to adversity. This is a first description of a mouse model for the effects of social involvement on adverse life events. Understanding how social involvement provides resilience to adversity may contribute to the future treatment and prevention of mental and physical illness.


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October 11, 2016