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Biol Psychiatry. 2006 Mar 1;59(5):415-23. Epub 2005 Sep 30.

A mouse model system for genetic analysis of sociability: C57BL/6J versus BALB/cJ inbred mouse strains.

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Department of Psychiatry, Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-6140, USA.



Impairments in social behaviors are highly disabling symptoms of autism, schizophrenia, and other psychiatric disorders. Mouse model systems are useful for identifying the many genes and environmental factors likely to affect complex behaviors, such as sociability (the tendency to seek social interaction). To progress toward developing such a model system, we tested the hypothesis that C57BL/6J inbred mice show higher levels of sociability than BALB/cJ inbred mice.


Mice tested for sociability were 4- and 9-week-old, male and female C57BL/6J and BALB/cJ mice. On 2 consecutive days, the sociability of each test mouse toward an unfamiliar 4-week-old DBA/2J stimulus mouse was assessed with a social choice paradigm conducted in a three-chambered apparatus. Measures of sociability included the time that the test mouse spent near versus far from the stimulus mouse, the time spent directly sniffing the stimulus mouse, and the time spent in contact between test and stimulus mice in a free interaction.


C57BL/6J mice showed higher levels of sociability than BALB/cJ mice overall in each of these measures.


We propose that C57BL/6J and BALB/cJ mice will be a useful mouse model system for future genetic and neurobiological studies of sociability.

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