Navigation Links
Social bonding in prairie voles helps guide search for autism treatments
Date:4/28/2011

Researchers at the Center for Translational Social Neuroscience (CTSN) at Emory University are focusing on prairie voles as a new model to screen the effectiveness of drugs to treat autism.

They are starting with D-cycloserine, a drug Emory researchers have shown enhances behavioral therapy for phobias and also promotes pair bonding among prairie voles. Giving female voles D-cycloserine, which is thought to facilitate learning and memory, can encourage them to bond with a new male more quickly than usual.

The results are published online and will appear in a future issue of Biological Psychiatry.

"The prairie vole model has enabled us to learn about complex neural pathways in social areas of the brain," says senior author Larry Young, PhD. We believe these insights will be useful in identifying drugs that enhance social cognition and learning. Drugs with these properties, particularly when combined with behavioral therapies, may be beneficial in the treatment of autism spectrum disorders."

Young is division chief of Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychiatric Disorders at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, William P. Timmie professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University School of Medicine and director of the Emory CTSN (www.ctsn.emory.edu).

He and his colleagues have been studying the prairie vole for more than 15 years as a model to explore the neurobiology of prosocial behaviors, including cooperation, compassion, bonding and social reciprocity. Now, they are hoping to identify drugs that can enhance social learning in individuals with autism spectrum disorders, and they think the process of pair bonding in the prairie vole may be a useful tool for identifying new therapies.

The prairie vole is one of the few species in nature that is monogamous and that creates deep social bonds while mating, Young says. The basic mechanisms of voles' and humans' social learning are similar enough that the learning that occurs during voles' pair bonding can model complex human social interactions, he says. Young and his colleagues have used voles to show the importance for social interactions of hormones such as oxytocin, which has also been proposed as a treatment for autism spectrum disorders.

The first author of the paper is Emory graduate student Meera Modi. She showed that D-cycloserine promotes pair bonding in prairie voles when it is injected peripherally. By infusing the drug directly into specific regions of the brain, she also showed the importance of two regions linked to social learning and reward, the nucleus accumbens and amygdala.

"We think D-cycloserine interacts with the brain's social information processing circuits to enhance the natural learning processes that occur there," Modi says.

With voles, the "partner preference paradigm" works like this: sexually nave females are placed with sexually experienced males for six hours of cohabitation. The females are not ovulating and no mating occurs. Normally, pair-bonding requires more time -- 24 hours -- and mating is necessary.

Later, the females are given a choice between spending time with the newly familiar male and a stranger; researchers then measure how much time they spend with each male over the next three hours. When a low dose of the drug D-cycloserine is injected at the start of cohabitation, the female prefers the familiar male by a factor of at least four. Without the drug, the female doesn't markedly prefer either male.

Emory researchers have shown D-cycloserine can be used to treat psychiatric diseases such as phobias and social anxiety. It is now in clinical trials for treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. D-cycloserine is thought to enhance learning by acting on receptors for the neurotransmitter glutamate.

Autism spectrum disorders affect one in 110 children in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Currently there are no drugs that specifically target social deficits found in individuals with autism, Young notes. Most drugs now prescribed for individuals with autism were originally developed for other disorders such as depression or schizophrenia.


'/>"/>

Contact: Holly Korschun
hkorsch@emory.edu
404-727-3990
Emory University
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Social media can alter research priorities, according to paper in Nature
2. Higher levels of social activity decrease the risk of cognitive decline
3. Study links social environment to high attempted suicide rates among gay youth
4. Gene linked to severity of autisms social dysfunction
5. Social Media Has Good and Bad Effects on Kids: Experts
6. Social class makes no difference to water contamination risk
7. Image, Appearance Rank High Among Social Network Users
8. Chimps, Too, May Use Laughter for Social Gain
9. Experts explore vaccines: Science, legal, social issues at New York Academy of Sciences
10. Busy Social Life May Stave Off Disability in Elderly
11. Diabetes Social Networking Web Sites Vary in Quality
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/28/2017)... ... June 28, 2017 , ... Park Systems , a leader in Atomic ... SEMICONWest attendees and Park customers on July 11, 2017 from 12-2pm at the ... Chairman & CEO of Park Systems, and Prof. Krishna Saraswat , Rickey/Nielsen Professor ...
(Date:6/28/2017)... ... June 28, 2017 , ... Doner Financial, ... regions access to insurance assistance and financial planning services, is announcing the commencement ... families in the region facing financial crisis. , Matthew 25: Ministries (M25M) is ...
(Date:6/27/2017)... ... 2017 , ... Excel Medical, the leader in Next-Generation Medical ... Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing. Finnegan is a widely known industry leader ... leadership. He has received industry recognition for innovations and new approaches to sales ...
(Date:6/27/2017)... , ... June 27, 2017 , ... Harbour , ... token assets on the Ethereum blockchain, has released their technical specifications . , ... there has been little systematic approach for determining which offerings will garner the greatest ...
(Date:6/27/2017)... ... June 27, 2017 , ... ... Association’s SUNucate efforts, Louisiana became the sixth state to pass legislation which ... Governor John Bel Edwards’ signature, Louisiana joins the states of Alabama, Arizona, Florida, ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/19/2017)... , June 19, 2017  Researchers from DRUGSCAN ... that they will host a live, complimentary webinar titled, ... the benchtop to the real world" on Wednesday June ... This webinar will feature interviews with ... look into the manipulation techniques abusers use to prepare ...
(Date:6/14/2017)... June 14, 2017  In 2016, Embodied Labs ... pitch competition and came away with $25,000 in ... described by Forbes as "entering the life of another" ... as teaching "empathy to medical professionals in an entirely ... recently named a finalist for the Department of Education,s ...
(Date:6/9/2017)... 2017 AirXpanders, Inc. (ASX: AXP) (AirXpanders or ... manufacture, sale and distribution of the AeroForm® Tissue Expander ... its commercial roll-out in the United States ... one hundred (100) medical institutions and health systems, located ... needle-free alternative for women who choose reconstructive surgery following ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: