Finding could yield new insight into the Neurobiology of romantic love and the inability to form social bonds
Researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center of Emory University and Atlantas Center for Behavioral Neuroscience (CBN) have found transferring a single gene, the vasopressin receptor, into the brains reward center makes a promiscuous male meadow vole monogamous. This finding, which appears in the June 17 issue of Nature, may help better explain the neurobiology of romantic love as well as disorders of the ability to form social bonds, such as autism. In addition, the finding supports previous research linking social bond formation with drug addiction, also associated with the reward center of the brain.
In their study, Yerkes and CBN post-doctoral fellow Miranda M. Lim, PhD, and Yerkes researcher Larry J. Young, PhD, of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory Universitys School of Medicine and the CBN, attempted to determine whether differences in vasopressin receptor levels between prairie and meadow voles could explain their opposite mating behaviors. Previous studies of monogamous male prairie voles, which form lifelong social or pair bonds with a single mate, determined the animals brains contain high levels of vasopressin receptors in one of the brains principal reward regions, the ventral pallidum. The comparative species of vole, the promiscuous meadow vole, which frequently mates with multiple partners, lacks vasopressin receptors in the ventral pallidum.
Kelly Thompson | EurekAlert!
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