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Revealed: The secret behind an Alpha Male

What turns a male into an Alpha Male? According to new research involving mice this is caused by a neural circuit. When stimulated the neurons in this circuit dramatically increased the chances of a mouse winning aggressive encounters with other mice according to the study.

Across the animal kingdom social hierarchies are formed based on physical showdowns between creatures through a phenomenon called the “winner effect, ” whereby with each victory over a peer the chances of an animal winning the next increases, which in turn creates the hierarchy. It is known that the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) plays a key role in the long-term regulation of social dominance. But the exact mechanism underlying the “winner effect” has thus far remained unknown.

In the current study Tingting Zhou and colleagues gained deeper insights into the effect’s molecular underpinnings by studying mice in the midst of a standard social dominance test. The tests helped the researchers observe exactly what happens in the brains of mice as they struggle for social dominance.

Read full story: A neural switch for becoming alpha male

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