Dopamine disruption increases negotiation for cooperative interactions in a fish.Sci Rep. 2016 Feb 08; 6:20817.SR
Humans and other animals use previous experiences to make behavioural decisions, balancing the probabilities of receiving rewards or punishments with alternative actions. The dopaminergic system plays a key role in this assessment: for instance, a decrease in dopamine transmission, which is signalled by the failure of an expected reward, may elicit a distinct behavioural response. Here, we tested the effect of exogenously administered dopaminergic compounds on a cooperative vertebrate's decision-making process, in a natural setting. We show, in the Indo-Pacific bluestreak cleaner wrasse Labroides dimidiatus, that blocking dopamine receptors in the wild induces cleaners to initiate more interactions with and to provide greater amounts of physical contact to their client fish partners. This costly form of tactile stimulation using their fins is typically used to prolong interactions and to reconcile with clients after cheating. Interestingly, client jolt rate, a correlate of cheating by cleaners, remained unaffected. Thus, in low effective dopaminergic transmission conditions cleaners may renegotiate the occurrence and duration of the interaction with a costly offer. Our results provide first evidence for a prominent role of the dopaminergic system in decision-making in the context of cooperation in fish.