Socially-Central Zebrafish Influence Group Behavior More than Those on the Social Periphery

Cuauhcihuatl Vital, Emília P. Martins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Certain individuals are more effective than others at using individual experience to impact group behavior. Here, we tested whether pre-training of zebrafish that are at the focal central of social group dynamics ("Key" fish) has a stronger positive impact on group performance than does pre-training of less central ("Non-Key") fish. We used very short observation periods and social network statistics to identify Key and Non-Key individuals, trained these fish to respond to an aversive stimulus, and then measured group performance after returning these now-experienced fish to a social setting. Although Key and Non-Key fish evaded the stimulus equally quickly as individuals, groups with experienced Key fish escaped the aversive stimulus more quickly than did groups with experienced Non-Key fish. The impact depended on genetic background: PN zebrafish on the social extremes (more often males) influenced the group's baseline response to the aversive stimulus, whereas experienced Scientific Hatcheries' zebrafish (both males and females) influenced the change in response over repeated trials. These results suggest that social roles are an important feature of information transfer across a group, and set the stage for future research into the genetic and evolutionary basis of social learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere55503
JournalPloS one
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 31 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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