Avoidance of potentially harmful food cannot be socially transmitted between rats|
JING, Liang; ZHOU, Qi-Xin & XU, Lin
The social transmission of food preferences (STFP) is a behavioural task of olfactory memory, in which an observer rat learns safe food odours from a demonstrator rat, and shows preference for this odour in a subsequent choice test. However, previous studies have failed to detect the transmission of information about food of potential danger and food aversion using STFP test. In this study, we tested how demonstrators' health affects the exchange of odour information and whether observers can learn danger information from an unhealthy demonstrator. As expected, the observer rat formed an odour preference after interacting with a demonstrator rat that had just eaten food containing a new odour, however, odour preference rather than aversion was also formed after interacting with a demonstrator rat injected with LiCl (used to induce gastric malaise). Furthermore, anaesthetized demonstrator rats and half-anaesthetized demonstrator rats, which showed obvious motor deficits suggesting an unhealthy state, also socially transmitted food preferences to observers. These results suggest that the social transmission of food preferences task is independent of a demonstrators' health, and that information about dangerous foods cannot be transmitted using this behavioural task.
Diet selection; Rats; Social learning; Social transmission of food preference; Food aversion