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PhD Seminar – Social cooperation: behavioral and molecular mechanism

March 24 @ 10:00 - 12:00

Social cooperation behavior is a widespread phenomenon in pairs or large groups aimed to achieve a tangible, immediate reward, by voluntary joint action. Psychiatric conditions often arise from social interactions, necessary for optimal mental functioning. Impairment in social cooperation was reported in several neuro- psychopathologies, including autism spectrum disorder, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and schizophrenia.
Recently, our lab has established a fully automated cooperation maze, allowing us to address the question of the nature vs. nurture basis of social cooperation behavior. Implementing a selective inbreeding procedure, following 10 generations, we were able to progressively show a difference between two subpopulations of ‘high’ performers (HPR) and ‘low’ performers (LPR) in social cooperation test. We concluded that the increased frequency of cooperative behavior in the two sub populations suggest a genetic component of these two phenotypes and strengthens the predictive and face validity of our cooperation maze.
Secondly, we aimed to identify the interplay between hereditary and environmental influences on social cooperation behavior. This aim was addressed by combining transgenerational selective inbreeding and in- or cross- foster mothering experiments. We found that the inheritability of cooperative trait can be predictable based on parental origin rather than environmental influences. Interestingly, our direct side-by-side comparison of HPR/LPR male and female rats revealed a better performance tendency for both HPR/LPR females.
Exploring the mechanism, we assessed protein expression profiles (by proteomics and transcriptomic) in the social interaction context. We identified expression changes of proteins in the HPR/LPR rats in 3 different brain areas relate to social cooperation. Data extracted from this extensive study of a social cooperation paradigm may identify the effects in the behavioral, pharmacological, molecular and physiological domains of cooperation behavior and facilitate decoding of molecular mechanisms of psychiatric disorders.



March 24
10:00 - 12:00