Social learning (SL) through experience with conspecifics can facilitate the acquisition of many behaviors. Thus, when Mongolian gerbils are exposed to a demonstrator performing an auditory discrimination task, their subsequent task acquisition is facilitated, even in the absence of visual cues. Here, we show that transient inactivation of auditory cortex (AC) during exposure caused a significant delay in task acquisition during the subsequent practice phase, suggesting that AC activity is necessary for SL. Moreover, social exposure induced an improvement in AC neuron sensitivity to auditory task cues. The magnitude of neural change during exposure correlated with task acquisition during practice. In contrast, exposure to only auditory task cues led to poorer neurometric and behavioral outcomes. Finally, social information during exposure was encoded in the AC of observer animals. Together, our results suggest that auditory SL is supported by AC neuron plasticity occurring during social exposure and prior to behavioral performance.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)