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Neural Mechanisms of Sociability

Weekly Seminar | Not Open to the Public
Who Should Attend: 


Positive prosocial interactions contribute to the development and maintenance of a range of adaptive, cooperative behaviors. Conversely, inability to participate in normal social interactions is a debilitating symptom of several prominent neuropsychiatric disorders.  Although the role of neuromodulators in social behaviors is an active area of investigation, relatively little is known about the detailed neural mechanisms that influence sociability.  This talk will review evidence that release of serotonin in the nucleus accumbens plays a critical role in promoting sociability.  Deficits in the action of serotonin in the nucleus accumbens may contribute to sociability deficits in mouse models of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Consistent with this hypothesis, administration of specific serotonin receptor agonists can rescue sociability deficits in several ASD mouse models and administration of MDMA enhances sociability in mice due to its serotonin-releasing properties in the nucleus accumbens.

Dr. Robert Malenka's Figure


Boris D Heifets, Juliana S Salgado, Madison D Taylor, Paul Hoerbelt, Daniel F Cardozo Pinto, Elizabeth E Steinberg, Jessica J Walsh, Ji Y Sze, Robert C Malenka
Distinct neural mechanisms for the prosocial and rewarding properties of MDMA
Sci Transl Med. 2019 Dec 11;11(522):eaaw6435. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaw6435.
Jessica J Walsh, Daniel J Christoffel, Boris D Heifets, Gabriel A Ben-Dor, Aslihan Selimbeyoglu, Lin W Hung, Karl Deisseroth, Robert C Malenka
5-HT release in nucleus accumbens rescues social deficits in mouse autism model
Nature. 2018 Aug;560(7720):589-594. doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0416-4. Epub 2018 Aug 8.
Jessica J Walsh, Pierre Llorach, Daniel F Cardozo Pinto, Wendy Wenderski, Daniel J Christoffel, Juliana S Salgado, Boris D Heifets, Gerald R Crabtree, Robert C Malenka
Systemic enhancement of serotonin signaling reverses social deficits in multiple mouse models for ASD
Neuropsychopharmacology. 2021 Oct;46(11):2000-2010. doi: 10.1038/s41386-021-01091-6. Epub 2021 Jul 8.


Tuesday, May 3, 2022 - 12:30pm


Conference Room: 
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Darlene White

Conditions & Recovery

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