Social Transmission of Food Preference in Mice

Craige C. Wrenn1

1 Laboratory of Behavioral Neuroscience, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda
Publication Name:  Current Protocols in Neuroscience
Unit Number:  Unit 8.5G
DOI:  10.1002/0471142301.ns0805gs28
Online Posting Date:  September, 2004
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The social transmission of food preference (STFP) is an ethologically relevant test of olfactory memory that can be used in mice. In this test, “observer” mice interact with a “demonstrator” mouse that has recently eaten a novel food. When observer mice are presented with a choice between the food eaten by the demonstrator and some other novel food, observer mice prefer the food eaten by the demonstrator. This phenomenon depends on the observer mice detecting olfactory cues on the breath of the demonstrator mouse during their interaction. The subsequent food preference serves as a measure of memory for those olfactory cues. This unit describes a method for performing STFP in mutant mice. The method explains how to address potential confounding factors and avoid possible pitfalls.

Keywords: social learning; mice; food preference; memory; olfaction

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Table of Contents

  • Commentary
  • Literature Cited
  • Figures
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Basic Protocol 1:

  • Clean cage litter
  • Powdered rodent chow (AIN‐93M, Dyets, Inc.)
  • Pair of standard grocery store ground flavors (most commonly cocoa and cinnamon; store in sealed containers up to 2 months at 4°C)
  • Mice, littermates caged by sex, 2 to 5 per cage
  • Standard mouse cages for individual housing of each demonstrator and observer
  • 4‐oz. glass food jar assemblies (Dyets, Inc.; Fig. )
  • Label tape and pens for labeling of food jars
  • Balance, sensitive to 0.01 g
  • Labeling pen for marking tails of observer mice
  • Stopwatch
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Literature Cited

Literature Cited
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