We developed a behavioral experiment to elucidate the neural mechanisms of intention understanding in mice. In this experiment, the mouse is first trained to acquire food by reaching with its forelimb. The mice that learnt this were placed in an experimental box wherein they can observe the reaching activity of another mouse. We found that trained mice tend to observe the reaching activity of other mice; mice that did not receive any prior training displayed a lower tendency towards observing another mouse's reaching behavior. In experiment 2, in order to rule out that observing the behaviors of other mice is solely due to interest in the feeding table or the social stimulus itself, we compared exploratory approach behaviors when the box with the feeding table was empty, when the untrained mouse did not reach it, and when another learnt mouse was reaching for the food. The results showed that exploratory approach behaviors to trained mice lasted significantly longer than the exploratory approach behavior to the empty box and untrained individuals. These results suggest that the learning of individuals' exploration of other reaching individuals may be motivated not only by interest in the presence of the feeding table and other individuals themselves, but also by an associated intentional movement. The tasks developed in our study could be used in the research of the mirror system in behavioral neuroscience to elucidate the mechanism underlying the ability of mice to understand the intent of other mice via motor learning.
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