Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tapping secrets of the social brain

Gary Stix writes in Scientific American:

Emory University just announced at this week's Society for Neuroscience meeting that it is establishing a Center for Translational Social Neuroscience.

The objective will be to bring in bigwig scientists like psychologist Frans de Waal from the school's Yerkes National Primate Research Center to marshal a body of basic research on social bonding and translate it into drugs or behavioral interventions that can help autistic children and those suffering from the kinds of social deficits that can occur with schizophrenia. These studies will also shed light on how the normal social brain works.

"The overall goal is to foster collaboration between people trying figure to out how to treat autism patients and people who are working with animals who can come up with clever ways of stimulating the social brain and bring these people together to make translation happen," says Larry Young, the center's director, who uses prairie voles (unusual because they are monogamous mammals—see photo) to study social relationships.

Read the whole article in Scientific American.

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