(Project 2, Liu) Oxytocin is important for many aspects of social cognition. However, it is far from understood how oxytocin acts in the brain to have its effects on social perception, learning and the formation of long-term attachments. The monogamous prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster) is a premier animal model for studying mechanisms of attach- ment, and oxytocin acting in various reward-related brain regions is essential for prairie voles to form pair bonds. Yet exactly how oxytocin facilitates pair bonding by modulating the underlying neural circuitry during social inter- actions to form bonds is unknown, pointing to a gap in our knowledge linking neurochemical to neural circuit mechanisms of attachment. Our long-term goal is to elucidate how oxytocin modulates reward and sensory systems underlying social information processing and learning. We focus here on a key oxytocin receptor-rich node at the interface between these systems, the nucleus accumbens, which receives inputs from other oxytocin receptor-dense areas, the medial prefrontal cortex (Aim 1) and the basolateral amygdala (Aim 2). Our objective here is to determine whether manipulating the oxytocin system to impair or enhance pair bonding affects nucleus accumbens' functional connectivity with its mPFC and BLA inputs. Our central hypothesis is that oxytocin nor- mally acts to improve communication from reward and cue processing areas to local NAc circuits that integrate these channels of information during specific social interactions, helping to reinforce the ability of partner signals to elicit affiliative behavior. We validate this hypothesis using both loss-of-function and gain-of-function experi- mental designs, as well as optogenetics to test causality. The rationale for our proposal is that, once we know how oxytocin affects neural circuitry between brain areas to facilitate the formation of a selective attachment, we can begin to elucidate the molecular mechanisms for plasticity within these circuits.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Specialized Center (P50)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZMH1)
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Emory University
United States
Zip Code
Gothard, Katalin M; Mosher, Clayton P; Zimmerman, Prisca E et al. (2018) New perspectives on the neurophysiology of primate amygdala emerging from the study of naturalistic social behaviors. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Cogn Sci 9:
Osako, Yoji; Nobuhara, Reiko; Arai, Young-Chang P et al. (2018) Partner Loss in Monogamous Rodents: Modulation of Pain and Emotional Behavior in Male Prairie Voles. Psychosom Med 80:62-68
Dobolyi, Arpad; Cservenák, Melinda; Young, Larry J (2018) Thalamic integration of social stimuli regulating parental behavior and the oxytocin system. Front Neuroendocrinol 51:102-115
Rogers, Christina N; Ross, Amy P; Sahu, Shweta P et al. (2018) Oxytocin- and arginine vasopressin-containing fibers in the cortex of humans, chimpanzees, and rhesus macaques. Am J Primatol 80:e22875
Ortiz, Juan J; Portillo, Wendy; Paredes, Raul G et al. (2018) Resting state brain networks in the prairie vole. Sci Rep 8:1231
Putnam, Philip T; Young, Larry J; Gothard, Katalin M (2018) Bridging the gap between rodents and humans: The role of non-human primates in oxytocin research. Am J Primatol 80:e22756
Bosch, Oliver J; Young, Larry J (2018) Oxytocin and Social Relationships: From Attachment to Bond Disruption. Curr Top Behav Neurosci 35:97-117
Andari, Elissar; Hurlemann, Rene; Young, Larry J (2018) A Precision Medicine Approach to Oxytocin Trials. Curr Top Behav Neurosci 35:559-590
Miranda-Dominguez, Oscar; Feczko, Eric; Grayson, David S et al. (2018) Heritability of the human connectome: A connectotyping study. Netw Neurosci 2:175-199
Li, Gaizhi; Liu, Penghong; Andari, Elissar et al. (2018) The Role of Amygdala in Patients With Euthymic Bipolar Disorder During Resting State. Front Psychiatry 9:445

Showing the most recent 10 out of 57 publications