Social transfer of flavour preferences: stereotypers are less convincing?

30 11 2014

Here are Laura‘s final results. ‘Demonstrator’ mice varying in how stereotypic they were, were fed food flavoured with shatavari powder (which I finally looked up: it’s a form of asparagus which has “rejuvenating effects upon female reproductive organs“; hmmm, may have to ask Laura for her leftovers).Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 9.31.49 AM

They were then each mingled in an empty cage with a naive ‘observer’ mouse who had never eaten this food. After this, each observer was offered a choice between two novel foods: one flavoured with the strange asparagus, one with marjoram as a control. Would they all eat more of the shatavari-flavoured food, or would this depend on how  behaviourally normal their demonstrators had been?

Just as predicted if stereotypic mice are socially impaired, the observers who went for the marjoram tended to have had more stereotypic demonstrators than observers who ate more of the shatavari.

OK, it’s not perfect, but not bad either (especially given that in the home cages, we also found that stereotypic mice attract more aggression). Definitely worth replicating.