Hormones and Behavior
Dopamine signaling mediates the formation of some types of social relationships, including reproductive pair bonds in the socially monogamous prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster). In addition to these pair bonds with mates, prairie voles demonstrate selective preferences for familiar same-sex peers. The dependence of peer relationships on dopamine signaling has not been tested, and the mechanisms supporting these relationships may differ from those underlying pair bonds. We examined the effects of pharmacological manipulations of dopamine signaling on peer partner preference and socially conditioned place preference in female prairie voles. Haloperidol blockade of dopamine receptors at multiple doses did not alter selective preferences for familiar same-sex partners, suggesting that dopamine neurotransmission is not necessary for the formation of prairie vole peer relationships, unlike mate relationships. Dopamine receptor agonist apomorphine facilitated peer partner preferences under conditions normally insufficient for partner preference formation; however, in the absence of effects from blockade, it is difficult to distinguish between a role for dopamine in partner preference formation and the generally rewarding properties of a dopamine agonist. Prairie voles exhibited socially conditioned place preferences for new but not long-term same-sex peers, and these preferences were not blocked by haloperidol. These results suggest that prairie vole peer relationships are less dependent on dopamine signaling than pair bonds, while still being rewarding. The data support distinct roles of dopamine and motivation in prairie vole peer relationships relative to mate relationships, suggesting that reproductive bonds are mediated differently from non-reproductive ones.
Affiliation, Dopamine, Partner preference, Prairie vole, Reward, Social behavior, Socially conditioned place preference
© The authors
Lee, Nicole S. and Beery, Annaliese K., "The Role of Dopamine Signaling in Prairie Vole Peer Relationships" (2021). Psychology: Faculty Publications, Smith College, Northampton, MA.
Author’s submitted manuscript.