An attempt was made using a combination of simple experimental manipulations and videotape recorder (VTR) analysis of bite targets employed to determine whether electroshock-induced attack on anosmic opponents in laboratory mice was an offensive or a defensive behaviour. VTR analysis suggested that ventral surface biting was more evident in this form of attack than in social conflict. Individually- and group-housed males showed similar levels of fighting on exposure to electroshock, but dominant males from pairs showed greater attack than their subordinate partners. Zinc sulphate-induced anosmia, 36 h of food deprivation, castration and lithium chloride treatment reduced electroshock-induced attack. Although significant changes were not obtained, there was some evidence that acute treatment with dexamethasone or ACTH augmented this behaviour. The direction of these changes is similar to that seen with social conflict, and it is suggested that electroshock-induced attack in the mouse (unlike the rat) is largely an aggressive offensive behaviour. The high incidence of ventral surface biting may be a consequence of the upright postures assumed on subjecting the animals to electroshock. © 1981.
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