Octodon degus. A useful animal model for social-affective neuroscience research: Basic description of separation distress, social attachments and play

A challenge for social-affective neuroscience programs is to identify simple and yet valid animal models for studying the expression of basic social emotions and their role during different developmental windows, from infancy to adulthood. For example, although laboratory rats are useful for studying juvenile social interactions, they are not ideal for studying infant attachment bonds. Here, we evaluate current understanding of the social behavior of Octodon degus, a diurnal precocial rodent, to elucidate the value of this species as a model for social-affective neuroscience research. After a synopsis of species-specific characteristics and brain susceptibility to changes of social environment, our behavioral findings on degu social proclivities are summarized. We then discuss why this pre-clinical model provides a valuable addition to the commonly available animal models for the study of human psychopathology. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

A challenge for social-affective neuroscience programs is to identify simple and yet valid animal models for studying the expression of basic social emotions and their role during different developmental windows, from infancy to adulthood. For example, although laboratory rats are useful for studying juvenile social interactions, they are not ideal for studying infant attachment bonds. Here, we evaluate current understanding of the social behavior of Octodon degus, a diurnal precocial rodent, to elucidate the value of this species as a model for social-affective neuroscience research. After a synopsis of species-specific characteristics and brain susceptibility to changes of social environment, our behavioral findings on degu social proclivities are summarized. We then discuss why this pre-clinical model provides a valuable addition to the commonly available animal models for the study of human psychopathology. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

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