A Social Reinforcement Learning Hypothesis of Mutual Reward Preferences in Rats

Part of the Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences book series (CTBN, volume 30)


Although the use of neuroimaging techniques has revealed much about the neural correlates of social decision making (SDM) in humans, it remains poorly understood how social stimuli are represented, and how social decisions are implemented at the neural level in humans and in other species. To address this issue, the establishment of novel animal paradigms allowing a broad spectrum of neurobiological causal manipulations and neurophysiological recordings provides an exciting tool to investigate the neural implementation of social valuation in the brain. Here, we discuss the potential of a rodent model, Rattus norvegicus, for the understanding of SDM and its neural underpinnings. Particularly, we consider recent data collected in a rodent prosocial choice task within a social reinforcement framework and discuss factors that could drive SDM in rodents.


Prosocial Rat Social reinforcement learning Amygdala Mutual reward preference 



This work was supported by a grant from Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG Grant No. KA 2675/6-1). MvW was supported by the Volkswagen Stiftung “Freigeist” fellowship, AZ 88216.


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Comparative Psychology, Institute of Experimental PsychologyHeinrich-Heine University DüsseldorfDüsseldorfGermany

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