Animals in the wild must balance food intake with vigilance for predators in order to survive. The optic tectum plays an important role in the integration of external (predators) and internal (energy status) cues related to predator defense and prey capture. However, the role of neuromodulators involved in tectal sensorimotor processing is poorly studied. Recently we showed that tectal CRFR1 receptor activation decreases food intake in the South African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis, suggesting that CRF may modulate food intake/predator avoidance tradeoffs. Here we use a behavioral assay modeling food intake and predator avoidance to test the role of CRFR1 receptors and energy status in this tradeoff. We tested the predictions that 1) administering the CRFR1 antagonist NBI-27914 via the optic tecta will increase food intake and feeding-related behaviors in the presence of a predator, and 2) that prior food deprivation, which lowers tectal CRF content, will increase food intake and feeding-related behaviors in the presence of a predator. Pre-treatment with NBI-27914 did not prevent predator-induced reductions in food intake. Predator exposure altered feeding-related behaviors in a predictable manner. Pretreatment with NBI-27914 reduced the response of certain behaviors to a predator but also altered behaviors irrelevant of predator presence. Although 1-wk of food deprivation altered some non-feeding behaviors related to energy conservation strategy, food intake in the presence of a predator was not altered by prior food deprivation. Collectively, our data support a role for tectal CRFR1 in modulating discrete behavioral responses during predator avoidance/foraging tradeoffs.
- Optic tectum