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Affiliation Collaboratory

Contact:  Larry Young, PhD,, Ph. 404-727-8272

At A Glance

Research of the Affiliation Collaboratory focuses on social recognition, social attachment, attractant pheromones and maternal influences on behavior. The collaboratory has discovered:

  • AVP acts on the brain’s reward circuitry to regulate the formation of social attachments between animals; transferring a receptor gene for AVP into the brain increases social or pair-bonding behavior in male prairie voles and makes promiscuous male meadow voles monogamous; differences in the length of seemingly non-functional “junk DNA” in the AVP receptor gene affect the degree of pair-bonding behavior of male prairie voles;
  • Genetically identical animals placed in different pre- and post-natal environments will differ dramatically as adults in their tendencies to form social attachments depending on the behavior of the rearing mother towards her offspring.
  • Genetic research in prairie voles reveals that variation in the vasopressin receptor gene contributes to variation in brain expression pattern and social behavior. Several studies now reveal that similar genetic variation may contribute to variation in human social behavior, including socialization skills in autism and altruistic behavior.
  • The corticotrophin releasing factor system mediates the onset of depressive-like behavior following loss of partner in monogamous rodents.

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