(Project 3, Rainnie) The ability to recognize the identity and intentions of others and to react accordingly is an evolutionarily adaptive process with relevance to psychiatric disorders. However, the cellular and neurotransmitter systems that regulate this process remain largely unknown. One region consistently shown to play a pivotal role in regulating the behavioral response to both appetitive and aversive sensory and/or social stimuli is the basolateral amygdala (BLA). The activity of neurons in the BLA has been shown to signal preference in a social recognition task, and in the previous Conte Center funding period we showed that during social interaction between same sex rats neural activity in the BLA and a key component of reward circuitry, the nucleus accumbens (NAc), became highly synchronized. Synchronization was associated with markedly enhanced ?-? cross-frequency-coupling (?-? CFC) similar to that seen in non-human primates (NHP) during performance of a social preference task (see Project 4) and between the mPFC and NAc during pair bonding in voles (Project 2). Together, these data suggest that ?-? CFC may represent a canonical mechanism for integrating executive, emotion, and reward circuits to drive appropriate behavioral responses during social interaction. We have successfully developed a novel rat social recognition task, which mirrors the task being utilized in the NHP studies of Project 4, and with which we can directly examine the role of two neurotransmitters, acetylcholine (ACh) and oxytocin (OT) in the modulation of social recognition as well as ?-? CFC in the pathway from the BLA to the NAc. These two neurotransmitters have been shown to play key roles in regulating cue discrimination, ?-? CFC, and social interaction in rodents and NHPs. However, ACh and OT are usually studied independently of one another. It is our contention that ACh and OT act synergistically in the BLA to facilitate social recognition in conspecifics. Here, we will test the hypothesis that OT release in the BLA acts to facilitate social recognition by enhancing ACh release in the BLA and promoting ?-? CFC in the pathway from the BLA to NAc. To challenge this hypothesis we will use state-of- the-art gene transfer and gene deletion techniques in conjunction with pathway specific viral vector manipulations to selectively target specific neural circuits that are thought to regulate BLA neural activity during social recognition and discrimination. The PI of Project 3, is an internationally recognized expert in the field of amygdala anatomy and physiology and has a track record of using state-of-the-art viral vector manipulations to examine the fine structure of neural circuits that regulate affective behavior. In addition, the research team for Project 3 have all of the necessary expertise to successfully complete the proposed studies. We anticipate that at the end of Project 3 we will have markedly increased our understanding of the interaction between two critical neurotransmitter systems that are known to play a major role in social discrimination. By better understanding the systems and circuits that guide prosocial behavior we will be able to develop more targeted therapeutic approaches for disorders that share a common pathology of deficits in social behavior.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Specialized Center (P50)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZMH1)
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Emory University
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Andari, Elissar; Hurlemann, Rene; Young, Larry J (2018) A Precision Medicine Approach to Oxytocin Trials. Curr Top Behav Neurosci 35:559-590
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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

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