Modification of feeding circuits in the evolution of social behavior

Eva K. Fischer, Lauren A. O'Connell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Adaptive trade-offs between foraging and social behavior intuitively explain many aspects of individual decision-making. Given the intimate connection between social behavior and feeding/foraging at the behavioral level, we propose that social behaviors are linked to foraging on a mechanistic level, and that modifications of feeding circuits are crucial in the evolution of complex social behaviors. In this Review, we first highlight the overlap between mechanisms underlying foraging and parental care and then expand this argument to consider the manipulation of feeding-related pathways in the evolution of other complex social behaviors. We include examples from diverse taxa to highlight that the independent evolution of complex social behaviors is a variation on the theme of feeding circuit modification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)92-102
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Evolution
  • Feeding behavior
  • Foraging
  • Neural circuits
  • Parental behavior
  • Social behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


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