The animal and human neuroendocrinology of social cognition, motivation and behavior

Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Department of Social Neuroscience, Leipzig, Germany.
Nature Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 14.98). 04/2012; 15(5):681-8. DOI: 10.1038/nn.3084
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Extensive animal and recent human research have helped inform neuroendocrinological models of social cognition, motivation and behavior. In this review, we first summarize important findings regarding oxytocin, arginine vasopressin and testosterone in the domains of affiliation, social cognition, aggression and stress/anxiety. We then suggest ways in which human research can continue to profit from animal research, particularly by exploring the interactive nature of neuromodulatory effects at neurochemical, organismic and contextual levels. We further propose methods inspired by the animal literature for the ecologically valid assessment of affiliative behavior in humans. We conclude with suggestions for how human research could advance by directly assessing specific social cognitive and motivational mechanisms as intermediate variables. We advocate a more comprehensive look at the distinct networks identified by social neuroscience and the importance of a motivational state, in addition to approach and avoidance, associated with quiescence and homeostatic regulation.

1 Follower
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The mammary gland undergoes its final development in the adult animal, filling the mammary fat pad with a ductal tree and rudimentary alveoli during puberty, and expanding and fully differentiating during pregnancy. The hormones of pregnancy, prolactin (PRL), placental lactogen, growth hormone, and progesterone (P4) cooperate to produce a gland that is fully developed but nonfunctional. Secretory activity commences around parturition, with the withdrawal of progesterone and maintained levels of PRL and glucocorticoid. During lactation PRL provides a comprehensive signal that fosters synthesis and secretion of milk components and the survival of the alveolar cell. The lactating gland produces milk of a composition defined for the species using several specialized pathways including: (1) exocytosis for the secretion of milk proteins, lactose and divalent ions; (2) a unique lipid secretion pathway that produces membrane-bound milk fat globules; (3) transport systems for monovalent ions, glucose, and amino acids; and (d) transcytosis for the secretion of immunoglobulins and other milk components. Tight junctions form a gasket around the apical surface of the epithelial cells that is open to traffic of large and small molecules in pregnancy but tightly closed in lactation. The volume of milk produced is determined by milk removal from the gland, a function dependent on oxytocin secretion by the posterior pituitary and contraction of myoepithelial cells to force milk out of the alveoli. With the termination of milk removal an orderly involution process involving interactions with immune cells returns the gland to its resting state. In short, we provide a summary of our present understanding of the cellular and molecular biology of mammary development and milk secretion in the context of the whole body mechanisms that ensure adequate flux of nutrients to the gland to provide sufficient milk to meet the needs of the neonate. This article is available through ScienceDirect through your library or online at:
    Knobil and Neill's Physiology of Reproduction (Fourth Edition), 4th edited by Tony Plant, Anthony Zeleznik, 02/2015: chapter 46: pages 2055-2105; Elsevier., ISBN: ISBN-9780123971753
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Oxytocin (OT), the main neuropeptide of sociality, is expressed in neurons exclusively localized in the hypothalamus. During the last decade, a plethora of neuroendocrine, metabolic, autonomic and behavioral effects of OT has been reported. In the urgency to find treatments to syndromes as invalidating as autism, many clinical trials have been launched in which OT is administered to patients, including adolescents and children. However, the impact of OT on the developing brain and in particular on the embryonic and early postnatal maturation of OT neurons, has been only poorly investigated. In the present review we summarize available (although limited) literature on general features of ontogenetic transformation of the OT system, including determination, migration and differentiation of OT neurons. Next, we discuss trajectories of OT receptors (OTR) in the perinatal period. Furthermore, we provide evidence that early alterations, from birth, in the central OT system lead to severe neurodevelopmental diseases such as feeding deficit in infancy and severe defects in social behavior in adulthood, as described in Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS). Our review intends to propose a hypothesis about developmental dynamics of central OT pathways, which are essential for survival right after birth and for the acquisition of social skills later on. A better understanding of the embryonic and early postnatal maturation of the OT system may lead to better OT-based treatments in PWS or autism.
    Frontiers in Neuroanatomy 02/2015; 8. DOI:10.3389/fnana.2014.00164 · 4.18 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Aging is associated with well-recognized alterations in brain function, some of which are reflected in cognitive decline. While less appreciated, there is also considerable evidence of socioemotional changes later in life, some of which are beneficial. In this review, we examine age-related changes and individual differences in four neuroendocrine systems-cortisol, estrogen, testosterone, and oxytocin-as "difference makers" in these processes. This suite of interrelated hormonal systems actively coordinates regulatory processes in brain and behavior throughout development, and their level and function fluctuate during the aging process. Despite these facts, their specific impact in cognitive and socioemotional aging has received relatively limited study. It is known that chronically elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol exert neurotoxic effects on the aging brain with negative impacts on cognition and socioemotional functioning. In contrast, the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone appear to have neuroprotective effects in cognitive aging, but may decrease prosociality. Higher levels of the neuropeptide oxytocin benefit socioemotional functioning, but little is known about the effects of oxytocin on cognition or about age-related changes in the oxytocin system. In this paper, we will review the role of these hormones in the context of cognitive and socioemotional aging. In particular, we address the aforementioned gap in the literature by: (1) examining both singular actions and interrelations of these four hormonal systems; (2) exploring their correlations and causal relationships with aspects of cognitive and socioemotional aging; and (3) considering multilevel internal and external influences on these hormone systems within the framework of explanatory pluralism. We conclude with a discussion of promising future research directions.
    Frontiers in Psychology 01/2014; 5:1595. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01595 · 2.80 Impact Factor

Full-text (2 Sources)

Available from
Aug 19, 2014