Involvement of the neural social behaviour network during social information acquisition in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata)

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  • Female zebra finches Taeniopygia guttata will copy the novel foraging choice of males. The degree to which they do so, however, can vary considerably. Among-individual differences in social learning and their underlying neural pathways have received relatively little attention and remain poorly understood. Here, then, we allowed female zebra finches to observe live-streamed male demonstrators feeding from one of two novel-coloured feeders (social information acquisition phase). After this social information acquisition phase, we tested from which feeder the females preferred to feed to determine whether they copied the feeder choice of the male demonstrator (social learning test phase). We then examined the brains of these females for immediate early gene activity (c-fos) in the neural social behaviour network for the time during which they were observing the male feeding. Of the twelve regions and sub-regions in the brain examined we found only one weak correlation: greater copying was associated with lower activity the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, BSTmv. Future work should perhaps focus on neural activity that occurs during the stage in which there is evidence that animals have copied a demonstrator (i.e., social learning test phase in the current experiment) rather than during the period in which those animal observe that demonstrator (i.e., social information acquisition phase in the current experiment. What is clear is that the considerable emphasis on examining the behavioural component of social learning has not yet been accompanied by neural analyses.

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    Article (Published)
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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International
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    Learning & Behavior