Science Center #106
Social relationships are at the core of every healthy society and the quality of early social attachments contributes to emotional and social development. I will discuss the neurobiological mechanisms underlying attachment and bonding, as well as the impact of parenting on later life social relationships. The highly social and monogamous prairie vole is an ideal animal model for investigating the biological mechanisms of social attachment and bonding. Studies in voles have revealed that the neuropeptides oxytocin and vasopressin promote social bonding. Furthermore, variation in the oxytocin and vasopressin systems contributes to diversity in social behavior. I will also discuss how family structure can influences these brain mechanisms and later social behavior. Finally I will discuss parallels between these studies in voles and recent studies in humans which suggest that these mechanisms are highly conserved from rodent to man.
Larry J. Young, Ph.D.
Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, Department
of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory
University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Ga.
Dr. Larry J. Young is the William P. Timmie Professor of Psychiatry at Emory University in Atlanta. Dr. Young received his PhD from the University of Texas in 1994. He has published over 100 articles on the neurobiological basis of social behavior. Dr. Young’s research focuses on the neurobiological bases of social attachment and bonding. His research on monogamous prairie voles has revealed the roles of oxytocin and vasopressin in regulating social behavior. This work has important implications not only for understanding human nature, but also for developing treatments for psychiatric disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.