Helping-Like Behaviour in Mice Towards Conspecifics Constrained Inside Tubes

Hiroshi Ueno, Shunsuke Suemitsu, Shinji Murakami, Naoya Kitamura, Kenta Wani, Yosuke Matsumoto, Motoi Okamoto, Takeshi Ishihara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Prosocial behaviour, including helping behaviour, benefits others. Recently, helping-like behaviour has been observed in rats, but whether it is oriented towards rescue, social contact with others, or other goals remains unclear. Therefore, we investigated whether helping-like behaviour could be observed in mice similar to that in rats. Because mice are social animals widely used in neuroscience, the discovery of helping-like behaviour in mice would be valuable in clarifying the psychological and biological mechanisms underlying pro-sociability. We constrained mice inside tubes. Subject mice were allowed to move freely in cages with tubes containing constrained conspecifics. The subject mice released both cagemates and stranger mice but did not engage in opening empty tubes. Furthermore, the same behaviour was observed under aversive conditions and with anesthetised conspecifics. Interestingly, hungry mice opened the tubes containing food before engaging in tube-opening behaviour to free constrained conspecifics. Mice showed equal preferences for constrained and freely moving conspecifics. We demonstrated for the first time that mice show tube-opening behaviour. Furthermore, we partly clarified the purpose and motivation of this behaviour. An effective mouse model for helping-like behaviour would facilitate research on the mechanisms underlying prosocial behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5817
Pages (from-to)5817
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 9 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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