Social behavior represents a beneficial interaction between conspecifics that is critical for maintaining health and wellbeing. Dysfunctional or poor social interaction are associated with increased risk of physical (e.g., vascular) and psychiatric disorders (e.g., anxiety, depression, and substance abuse). Although the impact of negative and positive social interactions is well-studied, their underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood. Zebrafish have well-characterized social behavior phenotypes, high genetic homology with humans, relative experimental simplicity and the potential for high-throughput screens. Here, we discuss the use of zebrafish as a candidate model organism for studying the fundamental mechanisms underlying social interactions, as well as potential impacts of social isolation on human health and wellbeing. Overall, the growing utility of zebrafish models may improve our understanding of how the presence and absence of social interactions can differentially modulate various molecular and physiological biomarkers, as well as a wide range of other behaviors.
Scopus subject areas