Researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Centre at the Emory University in US have for the first time shown consolation behaviour in rodents.
    
They demonstrated that oxytocin - a brain chemical well-known for maternal nurturing and social bonding - acts in a specific brain region of prairie voles, the same as in humans, to promote consoling behaviour.
    
Prairie voles are small rodents known for forming lifelong, monogamous bonds and providing bi-parental care of their young.
    
The prairie voles' consoling behaviour was strongest toward familiar voles, and was not observed in the closely related, but asocial, meadow vole.

Observing another animal in distress caused activation in the anterior cingulate cortex, a brain region that is also activated when humans see another person in pain.
    
Prairie voles responded by increasing their pro-social contact, which clearly reduced the other's anxiety.
    
The findings were published in the journal Science.

 

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