Pain as a Mediator of Empathetic Response in Mus musculus: Identifying Neuroendocrine Substrates and Sex Differences of Social Approach Behavior
Haverford College. Department of Psychology
Place of Publication
Table of Contents
Recent behavioral research suggests that empathic behaviors may not be limited to humans and higher-order primates. In mice, pain directed behavior appears to be modulated based on the presence and pain status of a conspecific. However, additional indicators of social attachment have yet to be demonstrated in the mouse model. The present study attempts to determine if mice exhibit additional empathy-like behaviors found in other social models. Involvement of the social neuropeptide oxytocin is also evaluated. Results indicate that pain experienced by a familiar cagemate serves as an effective social cue for eliciting approach behavior in female mice, but does not affect male behavior. Furthermore, elevated levels of oxytocin appear to attenuate female approach behavior. Study limitations and future directions are discussed.