Brain, Behavior and Evolution
The nonapeptides arginine vasotocin (AVT) and vasopressin mediate a variety of social behaviors in vertebrates. However, the effects of these peptides on behavior can vary considerably both between and within species. AVT, in particular, stimulates aggressive and courtship responses typical of dominant males in several species, although it can also inhibit social interactions in some cases. Such differential effects may depend upon AVT influences within brain circuits that differ among species or between males that adopt alternative reproductive phenotypes and/or upon the differential activation of those circuits in different social contexts. However, to date, very little is known about how social stimuli that promote alternative behavioral responses influence AVT circuits within the brain. To address this issue, we exposed adult male goldfish to androstenedione (AD), a pheromonal signal that is released by both males and females during the breeding season, and measured social approach responses of males towards same- and other-sex individuals before and after AD exposure. In a second experiment, we measured AD-induced AVT gene expression using in situ hybridization. We found that brief exposure to AD induces social avoidance in response to rival males, but does not affect the level of sociality exhibited in response to sexually receptive females. Exposure to AD also increases AVT gene expression in the preoptic area of male goldfish, particularly in the parvocellular population of the preoptic nucleus. Together, these data suggest that AD is part of a social signaling system that induces social withdrawal specifically during male-male interactions by activating AVT neurons.
Androstenedione, Arginine vasotocin, Parvocellular preoptic area, Social behavior, Teleost
Mangiamele, Lisa A.; Keeney, Alex D.T.; D'Agostino, Erin N.; and Thompson, Richmond R., "Pheromone Exposure Influences Preoptic Arginine Vasotocin Gene Expression and Inhibits Social Approach Behavior in Response to Rivals but not Potential Mates" (2013). Biological Sciences: Faculty Publications, Smith College, Northampton, MA.