Hormones and Behavior
This is a contribution to SI: SBN/ICN meeting. In social species, relationships may form between mates, parents and their offspring, and/or social peers. Prairie voles and meadow voles both form selective relationships for familiar same-sex peers, but differ in mating system, allowing comparison of the properties of peer and mate relationships. Prairie vole mate bonds are dopamine-dependent, unlike meadow vole peer relationships, indicating potential differences in the mechanisms and motivation supporting these relationships within and/or across species. We review the role of dopamine signaling in affiliative behavior, and assess the role of behavioral reward across relationship types. We compared the reinforcing properties of mate versus peer relationships within a species (prairie voles), and peer relationships across species (meadow and prairie voles). Social reinforcement was assessed using the socially conditioned place preference test. Animals were conditioned using randomly assigned, equally preferred beddings associated with social (CS+)and solitary (CS−)housing. Prairie vole mates, but not prairie or meadow vole peers, conditioned toward the social cue. A second study in peers used counter-conditioning to enhance the capacity to detect low-level conditioning. Time spent on CS+ bedding significantly decreased in meadow voles, and showed a non-significant increase in prairie voles. These data support the conclusion that mate relationships are rewarding for prairie voles. Despite selectivity of preferences for familiar individuals in partner preference tests, peer relationships in both species appear only weakly reinforcing or non-reinforcing. This suggests important differences in the pathways underlying these relationship types, even within species.
Conditioned place preference, Dopamine, Meadow vole, Motivation, Partner preference, Peer, Prairie vole, Reinforcement, Reward, Same-sex, Social behavior, Vole, Voles
© The authors
Goodwin, Nastacia L.; Lopez, Sarah A.; Lee, Nicole S.; and Beery, Annaliese K., "Comparative Role of Reward in Long-Term Peer and Mate Relationships in Voles" (2019). Neuroscience: Faculty Publications, Smith College, Northampton, MA.