Study of Social Interaction
Social behaviors can be defined as all behavior that influences, or is influenced by, other members of the same species. The term thus refers to all behavior tending to bring individuals together, including sexual and reproductive activities as well as all aggressive behavior.
Nowadays, it is generally recognized that social interactions are not unitary behaviors with a single neurological basis, but different features underlie social behavior, involving different neural and endocrine bases. Growing knowledge of these mechanisms triggering social behavior is essential, regarding their implication in pathologies, such as autism or schizophrenia, in which social behavior is altered.
Beside its particular relevance to the study of autism, the examination of social behavior is also often employed to study depression and aggressive behaviors.
In laboratory rodents, basal social behavior can therefore be examined in different situations, such as in free interaction in which a group of subjects housed in a commune cage or in a less natural version with animals paired in a novel environment. Moreover, specific aspects can also be used to study social-dependent memory abilities, such as social recognition or social transmission of food preference.