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Beyond sex and aggression: Testosterone rapidly matches behavioral responses to social context and tries to predict the future

Citation

Kelly, Aubrey (2022), Beyond sex and aggression: Testosterone rapidly matches behavioral responses to social context and tries to predict the future, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.4tmpg4fch

Abstract

Although androgens are widely studied in the context of aggression, androgenic influences on prosocial behaviors have been less explored. We examined testosterone’s (T) influence on prosocial and aggressive responses in a positively-valenced social context (interacting with a pairbond partner) and a negatively-valenced context (interacting with an intruder) in socially monogamous Mongolian gerbils. T increased and decreased prosocial responses in the same individuals towards a pairbond partner and an intruder, respectively, both within 30 minutes, but did not affect aggression. T also had persistent effects on prosocial behavior; males in which T initially increased prosocial responses towards a partner continued to exhibit elevated prosocial responses towards an intruder male days later until a second T injection rapidly eliminated those responses. Thus, T surges can rapidly match behavior to current social context, as well as prime animals for positive social interactions in the future. Neuroanatomically, T rapidly increased hypothalamic oxytocin, but not vasopressin, cellular responses during interactions with a partner. Together, our results indicate that T can facilitate and inhibit prosocial behaviors depending on social context, that it can influence prosocial responses across rapid and prolonged time scales, and that it affects oxytocin signaling mechanisms that could mediate its context-dependent behavioral influences.

Methods

Behavioral data was video recorded and subsequently scored using BORIS software. Behavior was coded as being prosocial or aggressive.

Neural data from photomicrographs includes cell counts of oxytocin colocalized with the immediate early gene, Fos, as well as vasopressin colocalized with Fos.

Hormone data contains values of testosterone levels from an ELISA conducted by Cayman Chemical Company.

Usage Notes

Microsoft Excel and Word

Funding

National Science Foundation