Social Modulation of Sickness Behavior in Prairie Voles
Challenges to the immune system mobilize immune resources to trigger physiological and behavioral changes in a host. Alongside fever and cytokine responses, organisms initiate “sickness behaviors” like lethargy, social withdrawal, and decreased food and water intake to facilitate recovery from illness and prevent disease transmission to conspecifics. Yet, some species mask their sickness behaviors in group contexts to take advantage of survival and reproductive benefits, a form of social modulation. Prairie voles are a unique model for human social behavior, as they form selective, enduring social preferences for opposite-sex mates and same-sex peers, unlike traditional laboratory rodents. However, little research has investigated sickness behavior in this species, particularly in its modulation by same-sex peers, who were previously shown to facilitate recovery from stressors. My research will investigate the extent to which a same-sex peer modulates sickness behavior in male and female prairie voles provide further insight into the impact of social environment on recovery from illness.
Message to Sponsor
- Major: Integrative Biology
- Sponsor: Rose Hills Foundation
- Mentor: Annaliese Beery