The novel object recognition (NOR) test is a widely-used paradigm to study learning and memory in rodents. NOR performance is typically measured as the preference to interact with a novel object over a familiar object based on spontaneous exploratory behaviour. In rats and mice, females usually have greater NOR ability than males. The NOR test is now available for a large number of species, including fish, but sex differences have not been properly tested outside of rodents. We compared male and female guppies (Poecilia reticulata) in a NOR test to study whether sex differences exist also for fish. We focused on sex differences in both performance and behaviour of guppies during the test. In our experiment, adult guppies expressed a preference for the novel object as most rodents and other species do. When we looked at sex differences, we found the two sexes showed a similar preference for the novel object over the familiar object, suggesting that male and female guppies have similar NOR performances. Analysis of behaviour revealed that males were more inclined to swim in the proximity of the two objects than females. Further, males explored the novel object at the beginning of the experiment while females did so afterwards. These two behavioural differences are possibly due to sex differences in exploration. Even though NOR performance is not different between male and female guppies, the behavioural sex differences we found could affect the results of the experiments and should be carefully considered when assessing fish memory with the NOR test.

Guppies show behavioural but not cognitive sex differences in a novel object recognition test

Lucon-Xiccato, Tyrone
Primo
;
2016

Abstract

The novel object recognition (NOR) test is a widely-used paradigm to study learning and memory in rodents. NOR performance is typically measured as the preference to interact with a novel object over a familiar object based on spontaneous exploratory behaviour. In rats and mice, females usually have greater NOR ability than males. The NOR test is now available for a large number of species, including fish, but sex differences have not been properly tested outside of rodents. We compared male and female guppies (Poecilia reticulata) in a NOR test to study whether sex differences exist also for fish. We focused on sex differences in both performance and behaviour of guppies during the test. In our experiment, adult guppies expressed a preference for the novel object as most rodents and other species do. When we looked at sex differences, we found the two sexes showed a similar preference for the novel object over the familiar object, suggesting that male and female guppies have similar NOR performances. Analysis of behaviour revealed that males were more inclined to swim in the proximity of the two objects than females. Further, males explored the novel object at the beginning of the experiment while females did so afterwards. These two behavioural differences are possibly due to sex differences in exploration. Even though NOR performance is not different between male and female guppies, the behavioural sex differences we found could affect the results of the experiments and should be carefully considered when assessing fish memory with the NOR test.
Lucon-Xiccato, Tyrone; Dadda, Marco
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11392/2381448
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