Oxytocin (OT) mediates social habituation in rodent model systems, but its role in mediating this effect in other vertebrates is unknown. We used males of the African cichlid fish, Astatotilapia burtoni, to investigate two aspects of isotocin (IT; an OT homolog) signaling in social habituation. First, we examined the expression of IT receptor 2 (ITR2) as well as two immediate early genes in brain regions implicated in social recognition. Next, we examined IT neuron activity using immunohistochemistry. Patterns of gene expression in homologs of the amygdala and hippocampus implicate IT signaling in these regions in social habituation to a territorial neighbor. In the preoptic area, the expression of the ITR2 subtype and IT neuron activity respond to the presence of a male, independent of familiarity. Our results implicate IT in mediating social habituation in a teleost.

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