Alone, in the dark: The extraordinary neuroethology of the solitary blind mole rat

Yael Kashash, Grace Smarsh, Noga Zilkha, Yossi Yovel, Tali Kimchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

On the social scale, the blind mole rat (BMR; Spalax ehrenbergi) is an extreme. It is exceedingly solitary, territorial, and aggressive. BMRs reside underground, in self-excavated tunnels that they rarely leave. They possess specialized sensory systems for social communication and navigation, which allow them to cope with the harsh environmental conditions underground. This review aims to present the blind mole rat as an ideal, novel neuroethological model for studying aggressive and solitary behaviors. We discuss the BMR’s unique behavioral phenotype, particularly in the context of ‘anti-social’ behaviors, and review the available literature regarding its specialized sensory adaptations to the social and physical habitat. To date, the neurobiology of the blind mole rat remains mostly unknown and holds a promising avenue for scientific discovery. Unraveling the neural basis of the BMR’s behavior, in comparison to that of social rodents, can shed important light on the underlying mechanisms of psychiatric disorders in humans, in which similar behaviors are displayed.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere78295
JournaleLife
Volume11
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

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