The quality of social relationships is a powerful determinant of lifetime health. Here, we explored the impact of social experiences on circulating oxytocin (OT) concentration, telomere length (TL) and novelty-seeking behaviour in male and female rats. Prolonged social housing raised circulating OT levels in both sexes while elongating TL only in females. Novelty-seeking behaviour in females was more responsive to social housing and increased OT levels than males. The OT antagonist (OT ANT) L-366,509 blocked the benefits of social housing in all conditions along with female-specific TL erosion and novelty-seeking deficit. Thus, females seem more susceptible than males to genetic and behavioural changes when the secretion of endogenous OT in response to social life is interrupted. Social enrichment may therefore provide a therapeutic avenue to promote stress resiliency and chances of healthy aging across generations.
- Gerlinde AS Metz
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Animal experimentation: All procedures in this study were carried out in accordance with the National Institute of Health Guide to the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, and were approved by the institutional animal care committee (Protocol No. 004674BGH; Avicenna Institute of Neuroscience-AINS).
- Peggy Mason, University of Chicago, United States
© 2018, Faraji et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Downloads (link to download the article as PDF)
Download citations (links to download the citations from this article in formats compatible with various reference manager tools)
Open citations (links to open the citations from this article in various online reference manager services)
Oxytocin makes rats more adventurous and protects their cells from ageing.
Cognitive effort is described as aversive, and people will generally avoid it when possible. This aversion to effort is believed to arise from a cost–benefit analysis of the actions available. The comparison of cognitive effort against other primary aversive experiences, however, remains relatively unexplored. Here, we offered participants choices between performing a cognitively demanding task or experiencing thermal pain. We found that cognitive effort can be traded off for physical pain and that people generally avoid exerting high levels of cognitive effort. We also used computational modelling to examine the aversive subjective value of effort and its effects on response behaviours. Applying this model to decision times revealed asymmetric effects of effort and pain, suggesting that cognitive effort may not share the same basic influences on avoidance behaviour as more primary aversive stimuli such as physical pain.