Rescue-like Behaviour in Mice is Mediated by Their Interest in the Restraint Tool

Hiroshi Ueno, Shunsuke Suemitsu, Shinji Murakami, Naoya Kitamura, Kenta Wani, Yu Takahashi, Yosuke Matsumoto, Motoi Okamoto, Takeshi Ishihara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Acting without the expectation of compensation is called prosocial behaviour. Since prosocial behaviour requires high cognitive and social abilities, it has been thought to be only shown by primates. Although prosocial behaviour has been recently reported in rats, there are still questions regarding this finding. We demonstrated rescue-like behaviour in mice in a previous report. In this study, we investigated the motives underlying rescue-like behaviour for constrained cage-mates among mice. We prepared either a tube containing a ball of yarn or an opaque tube and assessed whether mice displayed the same rescue-like behaviour shown in the case of tube-restrained cage-mates. Mice did not open the lid of the tube containing the ball of yarn but opened the opaque tube lid. Mice showed a high interest in the tube in which the cage-mate had been restrained and prioritized staying in this tube rather than rescuing additional cage-mates. Oxytocin, which increases empathy, had no effect on the lid-opening behaviour. Thus, the rescue-like behaviour of mice is not based on empathy but is related to social interest in the cage-mate and the tube itself. These results suggest that rodent lid-opening behaviour may not conclusively prove the presence of prosocial behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10648
Number of pages1
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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