Effect of nucleus accumbens lesions on socially motivated behaviour of young domestic chicks

Gergely Zachar, András Sebestyén Tóth, Márton Balogh, A. Csillág

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


Behaviour of young domestic chicks when isolated from conspecifics is influenced by two conflicting drives: fear of potential predator and craving for company. The nucleus accumbens (Ac) has been suggested to influence social behaviour, as well as motivation in goal-directed tasks. In this study, the Ac of 1-day-old domestic chicks was lesioned bilaterally, using radiofrequency method. Open field behaviour before and after presenting a silhouette of a bird of prey was recorded, followed by a behavioural test to measure group size preference and social motivation of chicks. Ac-lesioned individuals emitted more distress calls and ambulated more in the open field test, however, they reacted to the predatory stimulus very similarly to control chicks: their vocalization was reduced and the intergroup difference in motor activity also disappeared. There was no difference between the lesioned and control chicks in the latency to approach their conspecifics in the social motivation test, and both groups chose the larger flock (eight) of conspecifics over the smaller one (three). Concerning the role of Ac in social behaviour, a difference between lesioned and sham birds was evident here only in the absence of detectable stimulus (predator or conspecifics). These findings may reflect either decreased fear of exposure to predators or increased craving for conspecifics suggesting that the likely function of Ac is to modulate goal-driven, including socially driven, behaviours, especially when the direct stimulus representing the goal is absent. This is in harmony with the known promotion of impulsiveness by Ac lesions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2016


  • Avian
  • Basal ganglia
  • Grouping
  • Open field
  • Separation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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