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Orientation of newborn mice to lactating females: Identifying biological substrates of semiochemical interest

Authors

  • Syrina Al Aïn,

    Corresponding author
    1. Developmental Ethology and Cognitive Psychology Group, Centre des Sciences du Goût et de l'Alimentation, CNRS (UMR 6265), Université de Bourgogne-Inra, Dijon, France
    • Developmental Ethology and Cognitive Psychology Group, Centre des Sciences du Goût et de l'Alimentation, CNRS (UMR 6265), Université de Bourgogne-Inra, Dijon, France.
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  • Amal Chraïti,

    1. Developmental Ethology and Cognitive Psychology Group, Centre des Sciences du Goût et de l'Alimentation, CNRS (UMR 6265), Université de Bourgogne-Inra, Dijon, France
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  • Benoist Schaal,

    Corresponding author
    1. Developmental Ethology and Cognitive Psychology Group, Centre des Sciences du Goût et de l'Alimentation, CNRS (UMR 6265), Université de Bourgogne-Inra, Dijon, France
    • Developmental Ethology and Cognitive Psychology Group, Centre des Sciences du Goût et de l'Alimentation, CNRS (UMR 6265), Université de Bourgogne-Inra, Dijon, France.
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  • Bruno Patris

    Corresponding author
    1. Developmental Ethology and Cognitive Psychology Group, Centre des Sciences du Goût et de l'Alimentation, CNRS (UMR 6265), Université de Bourgogne-Inra, Dijon, France
    • Developmental Ethology and Cognitive Psychology Group, Centre des Sciences du Goût et de l'Alimentation, CNRS (UMR 6265), Université de Bourgogne-Inra, Dijon, France.
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Abstract

Among mammals, odor-based communication between females and infants is decisive for neonatal survival. So far, the nature of odor substrates involved in the localization of the mother and their nipples is unknown in mice. The present study aims: (1) to evaluate the specific attractive value of lactating females to newborn mice, (2) to localize the abdominal region that is most attractive to pups, and (3) to identify odor substrates that support such attraction. Results showed that 5–6-day-old mice roam preferentially over the abdomen of lactating females than the abdomen of non-lactating females. In lactating females, pups are more attracted to abdominal areas comprising nipples. The blend of odor substrates from nipples, as well as separate sources presumed to compose it, viz. milk, maternal saliva and pup saliva, were detectable and equivalently attractive to pups. The equivalent attraction of these different odor substrates may derive either from overlap in chemical constituents, or from associative learning during nursing. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Dev Psychobiol 55: 113–124, 2013

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