Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mice in “Big Brother” Setup Develop Social Structures

19.06.2013
How does a social animal – mouse or human – gain dominance over his or her fellow creatures? A unique experiment conducted by Dr. Tali Kimchi and her team in the Weizmann Institute’s Department of Neurobiology provides some unusual insight into the social behavior that enables a social hierarchy, complete with a head honcho, to form.

Dr. Kimchi and her research team, Aharon Weissbrod, Genady Wasserman, and Alex Shapiro, together with Dr. Ofer Feinerman of the Department of Physics of Complex Systems, developed a system that enabled them to observe a large group of animals living together in semi-natural conditions. This setup was a sort of mouse version of the television show Big Brother.

Different strains of mice were placed in the “house” – a four-meter-square pen – and allowed to go about their lives with no intervention from the human team.

To automatically track the mice day and night, each mouse was implanted with an ID chip similar to those used in pet cats and dogs, and video cameras were placed strategically around the area, with infrared lighting that enabled nighttime filming. With the combined chip reporting and continuous video footage, the system could automatically keep tabs on each individual mouse, knowing its precise location down to the half centimeter, in measurements that were recorded 30 times a second for days – and sometimes even months – on end.

Because the information they obtained was so precise, the team was able to identify dozens of individual behaviors – eating, drinking, running, sleeping, hiding, etc. – as well as social behaviors – seeking out specific companions for activities or rest, avoiding certain individuals, attacking others, and more. The researchers found that it was possible to isolate and identify typical behaviors of individuals, pairs, and groups. In fact, just by sorting out behavioral patterns, the automated system was able to differentiate between the various genetic strains of the mice in the mixed groups, as well as predict mating, with over 90% accuracy. These close observations revealed, among other social features, how one of the individuals became “king” of the group, attaining dominance over the others, both male and female.

In further experiments, the “house” inhabitants comprised one of two strains of mice, the first more “social” and the second “autistic” (exhibiting little social engagement and rigid behavior patterns). The system automatically identified the “autistic” mice by identifying their patterns of movement and public behavior.

In a paper that appeared this week in Nature Communications, Dr. Kimchi and her team describe the emergence of the dominant leader and the development of a class system in a group of normal mice – just within a 24-hour period. Surprisingly, when they conducted a similar experiment with the autistic-like mice, either no leader emerged or, if one did, he was quickly overthrown.

The precise, automatic, semi-natural system the scientists have developed is enabling a deep, systematic study of the mechanisms for regulating social behavior in animal models; it may be especially useful for providing insight into the societal aspects of such disorders as schizophrenia and autism.

Dr. Ofer Feinerman’s research is supported by the Clore Foundation. Dr. Feinerman is the incumbent of the Shlomo and Michla Tomarin Career Development Chair.

Dr. Tali Kimchi’s research is supported by the Nella and Leon Benoziyo Center for Neurological Diseases; the Joan and Jonathan Birnbach Family Laboratory Fund; the Abisch Frenkel Foundation for the Promotion of Life Sciences; the Peter and Patricia Gruber Awards; Mike and Valeria Rosenbloom through the Mike Rosenbloom Foundation; the Harris Foundation for Brain Research; and the estate of Fannie Sherr. Dr. Kimchi is the incumbent of the Jenna and Julia Birnbach Family Career Development Chair.

The Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, is one of the world's top-ranking multidisciplinary research institutions. Noted for its wide-ranging exploration of the natural and exact sciences, the Institute is home to scientists, students, technicians and supporting staff. Institute research efforts include the search for new ways of fighting disease and hunger, examining leading questions in mathematics and computer science, probing the physics of matter and the universe, creating novel materials, and developing new strategies for protecting the environment.

Jennifer Manning | Newswise
Further information:
http://www.acwis.org

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft

nachricht Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Comet or asteroid? Hubble discovers that a unique object is a binary

21.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Cnidarians remotely control bacteria

21.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Monitoring the heart's mitochondria to predict cardiac arrest?

21.09.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>