Learning from others to cope with biting flies: social learning of fear-induced conditioned analgesia and active avoidance

Behav Neurosci. 2001 Jun;115(3):661-74.


Although fear conditioning has received extensive attention, little is known about the roles of social learning whereby an individual may learn and acquire the fear responses of another. The authors examined individually and socially mediated acquisition of fear and analgesia to the natural aversive stimulus of biting flies. Exposure to biting flies elicited in individual naive mice analgesia and active self-burying to avoid the flies. When exposed 24 hr later to flies whose biting parts were removed, but not to nonbiting house flies, these mice displayed conditioned analgesia and self-burying. This "one-trial" conditioned analgesia and avoidance was also acquired through social learning without direct individual experience with biting flies. Naive "observer" mice that witnessed other "demonstrator" mice being attacked by biting flies exhibited analgesia and self-burying 24 hr later to altered flies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Animals
  • Arousal
  • Attention
  • Avoidance Learning*
  • Conditioning, Classical
  • Diptera*
  • Fear*
  • Imitative Behavior*
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Pain Threshold*
  • Social Environment*