Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Emory researchers have demonstrated that prairie voles may be a useful model in understanding the neurochemistry of social behavior. In a recent study, they compared prairie vole pups raised by single mothers to pups raised by both parents to determine the effects of these types of early social environments on adult social behavior.
"Very simply, altering their early social experience influenced adult bonding," said Todd Ahern, a graduate student in neuroscience.
The pups raised by single mothers "were slower to make life-long partnerships, and they showed less interest in nurturing pups in their communal families," said Larry Young, who directs a lab in social neurobiology at Yerkes National Primate Research Center.
The researchers also found differences in the oxytocin system. Oxytocin is best known for its roles in maternal labor and suckling but, more recently, it has been tied to prosocial behavior, such as bonding, trust and social awareness.
Read the published study in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience.
Transgenic voles key to pair-bonding secrets