Hormones and Behavior 45 (2004) 136–143
Effects of central vasotocin and mesotocin manipulations on social
behavior in male and female zebra finches
James L. Goodson,* Laura Lindberg, and Paul Johnson
Psychology Department, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0109, USA
Received 23 July 2003; revised 27 August 2003; accepted 28 August 2003
Male and female zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata; total n = 40) were fitted with chronic guide cannulae directed at the lateral ventricle
and were tested for aggression, affiliation, and partner preference following infusions of mesotocin (MT), vasotocin (VT), their antagonists,
and vehicle control. Aggressive behavior was tested in a mate competition paradigm and tests of intersexual affiliation and partner preference
were conducted following 1 day of cohabitation with an opposite-sex individual. These tests also provided data on male courtship singing.
The results demonstrate a modest dose-dependent facilitation of aggression by VT, but not MT, in both male and female finches. However,
only males were sensitive to infusions of a vasopressin antagonist, suggesting that endogenous VT is more important for behavioral
modulation in males. Peptide effects were specific to aggression, as no treatments influenced intersexual affiliation, partner preference, or
male courtship singing. Thus, in contrast to rodents, partner preference is not readily induced by VT or MT in this species. However, the
potential necessity of endogenous VT and MT for natural pair-bond formation remains to be tested.
D 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Vasotocin; Vasopressin; Mesotocin; Oxytocin; Aggression; Song; Affiliation; Partner preference; Evolution
Neuropeptides of the vasotocin family influence numer-
ous social behaviors across the vertebrate classes and
occasionally do so in a sex-specific manner (Goodson and
Bass, 2001; Insel and Young, 2000; Rose and Moore, 2002).
In general, when sex-specific functions are ident