Mice raised in labs have more-complex social lives than previous models of group behaviour have suggested.
Alon Chen and Elad Schneidman at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, and their colleagues used cameras to track the locations of groups of four mice in an arena at night by painting their fur with fluorescent colours.
Models that assumed the mice act as individuals or interact in pairs (the typical model of mouse sociality) did poorly at describing the group's movement as a whole. Only models with interactions between three mice gave good approximations of the observed behaviour.
Using this model, the researchers found that mice raised in standard lab environments were less individualistic than those who had lived in larger groups and in more complex enclosures.