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Sylvie Granon

Neural bases of social decision-making in mice : role of the prefrontal cortex and of neuronal nicotinic receptors

Social interactions generate multiple decisions and behavioral choices. In social context, animals and humans have to adapt to uncertainty generated by the conspecific’ choices and to manage different natural motivations, social or not. We designed a behavioral paradigm that allows mice to interact freely within a novel environment, thus puting dyads of mice in a conflicting situation : choosing various types of actions, devoted to initiate, avoid, or end a social contact, or to make non social actions such as novelty exploration. In order to capture and dissect these various behavioral choices, we elaborated a software called MiceProfiler, that tracks and analyses actions of two mice during the social task. Among other data, it allowed us to identify choice points related with the ability to show flexible behaviors. In addition to the detailed behavioral analysis, we record ultrasonic vocalization -USVs- during the social task and show that they reflect motivational and emotional states of the animals, thus providing physiological measures during a decision task. During the talk, I will first show evidence for the crucial role of the prefrontal cortex -PFC- and of the neuronal nicotinic receptors -nAChRs- of the PFC in flexible social interaction. Second, I will show neurochemical data that evidence the role of nAChRs in the modulation of noradrenaline and dopamine in the PFC during social decision-making. Third, I will show that altering the PFC activity by an acute stress drastically compromise flexible social behaviors. In conclusion, I will discuss how these data obtained in mice models can bring novel insight about prefrontal monoaminergic dysfunction in the emergence of pathological behaviors such as those observed in human schizophrenic patients.