Social and individual recognition in rodents: Methodological aspects and neurobiological bases

Behav Processes. 1994 Dec;33(1-2):59-87. doi: 10.1016/0376-6357(94)90060-4. Epub 2002 May 31.


What animals know about each other, and how they construct and use knowledge of their social world involves at least an ability to recognise different social categories. Although much evidence has accumulated that animals are able to identify and classify other individuals into different categories, few studies have definitively demonstrated true individual recognition, i.e. discrimination between individuals on the basis of their idiosyncratic characteristics. Furthermore, the neural structures and pathways involved in social and, a fortiori, individual recognition have as yet been poorly investigated. This paper discusses various methods and measures currently used to assess different forms of social categorisations in animals, with special reference to rodents. Recent progress concerning the neurobiological bases involved in social recognition is also discussed. Finally, integrative perspectives for studying individual recognition in the context of social cognition is underlined in relation to different approaches investigating rodents' ability to use learned olfactory information.