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Data from: Forebrain activation during social exposure in wild-type guppies

Cite this dataset

Cabrera-Álvarez, María J.; Swaney, William T.; Reader, Simon M. (2018). Data from: Forebrain activation during social exposure in wild-type guppies [Dataset]. Dryad.


The neural mechanisms regulating social behaviour have received extensive attention in recent years, with much focus on 'complex' forms of sociality. Comparatively little research has addressed fundamental social behaviour, such as grouping, which impacts multiple determinants of fitness, such as foraging and avoiding predation. We are interested in the degree to which brain areas that regulate other forms of sociality are also involved in grouping behaviour, and so we investigated shoal-elicited activation of the brain in the guppy (Poecilia reticulata). Guppies are small, social fish that live in the rivers of Trinidad and, like many social fish, exhibit preferences for larger shoals. We first confirmed that our study population of wild-type guppies preferred to join a larger shoal, and then investigated the activation of four brain regions proposed to be involved in social behaviour and reward (the preoptic area, the dorsal part of the ventral telencephalon, the ventral part of the ventral telencephalon, and the supracommissural part of the ventral pallium). Subjects were exposed to a large shoal, a small shoal, or to a tank empty of conspecifics, and we used immediate early gene expression (egr-1) to assess neuronal activation. We found increased activation in the preoptic area when fish were exposed to a large shoal compared to controls that had no social exposure. There were no significant differences in activation within the other brain areas examined, possibly because these brain areas are not key regulators of grouping behaviour or have only a secondary role. The higher activation of the preoptic area during social exposure suggests functional homology in this highly-conserved region across all vertebrates.

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