Neural activation associated with outgroup helping in adolescent rats

Jocelyn M. Breton, Jordan S. Eisner, Vaidehi S. Gandhi, Natalie Musick, Aileen Zhang, Kimberly L.P. Long, Olga S. Perloff, Kelsey Y. Hu, Chau M. Pham, Pooja Lalchandani, Matthew K. Barraza, Ben Kantor, Daniela Kaufer, Inbal Ben-Ami Bartal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Prosocial behavior, helping others in need in particular, occurs preferentially in response to the perceived distress of one's own group members or ingroup. To investigate the development of ingroup bias, neural activity during a helping test was analyzed in adolescent and adult rats. Although adults selectively released trapped ingroup members, adolescent rats helped both ingroup and outgroup members, suggesting that ingroup bias emerges in adulthood. Analysis of brain-wide neural activity, indexed by expression of the early-immediate gene c-Fos, revealed increased activity for ingroup members across a broad set of regions previously associated with empathy. Adolescents showed reduced hippocampal and insular activity and increased orbitofrontal cortex activity compared to adults. Non-helper adolescents demonstrated increased amygdala connectivity. These findings demonstrate that biases for group-dependent prosocial behavior develop with age in rats and suggest that specific brain regions contribute to prosocial selectivity, pointing to possible targets for the functional modulation of ingroup bias.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104412
Issue number6
StatePublished - 17 Jun 2022


FundersFunder number
Greater Good Science Center
Canadian Institute for Advanced Research
Israel Science Foundation
Azrieli Foundation
Institute for Bioengineering and Biosciences


    • Behavioral neuroscience
    • Cellular neuroscience


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