Social modulation of individual preferences in cockroaches
2021-01-22, Günzel, Yannick, McCollum, Jaclyn, Paoli, Marco, Galizia, C. Giovanni, Petelski, Inga, Couzin-Fuchs, Einat
In social species, decision-making is both influenced by, and in turn influences, the social context. This reciprocal feedback introduces coupling across scales, from the neural basis of sensing, to individual and collective decision-making. Here, we adopt an integrative approach investigating decision-making in dynamical social contexts. When choosing shelters, isolated cockroaches prefer vanillin-scented (food-associated) shelters over unscented ones, yet in groups, this preference is inverted. We demonstrate that this inversion can be replicated by replacing the full social context with social odors: presented alone food and social odors are attractive, yet when presented as a mixture they are avoided. Via antennal lobe calcium imaging, we show that neural activity in vanillin-responsive regions reduces as social odor concentration increases. Thus, we suggest that the mixture is evaluated as a distinct olfactory object with opposite valence, providing a mechanism that would naturally result in individuals avoiding what they perceive as recently exploited resources.