Collective decisions in group-living animals depend on the characteristics of each individual and on the type of information they possess and exchange with the other members of the group. This project is subdivided in three parts. The first intends to study whether behavioral and physiological plasticity is equally shared in sheep as a function of group size, i.e. to what extent individuals change their behavioral pattern through allelomimetic behavior. The second aims at investigating the respective role of communication through physical contacts and pheromone trail on the modulation of recruitment to the resources exploited by leaf-cutting ants. Finally, the third part investigates how private and public information affects collective decisions and the ability to find an optimal solution to a problem in human groups.
Does the social buffering effect depend on the number of conspecifics?
When humans or animals are submitted to an aversive stimulus or suffer from illness they recover better in presence of a conspecific than alone, a phenomenon which is known as social buffering or social support. An increasing number of papers have been published in neurosciences on this subject since 2010. Few studies have addressed the question of whether this social buffering effect depends on the number of conspecifics. Yet, our preliminary studies on sheep and mice reveal that individuals are sensitive to the number of conspecifics in their environment when submitted to a stressful stimulus/context. The aim of our project is to study the neurophysiological, ethological and social bases of individual and collective responses of subjects submitted to stressful events.