20-23 september 2017. Pécs - Hungary
Neurobiology of Social Behavior (Árpád Dobolyi)
Neurobiology of Social Behavior (Árpád Dobolyi) 2017-09-21 - 15:30-17:30
Venue: Conference Room
The symposium will overview social behaviors in evolutionary perspective. Then, brain circuitry and systems biological results responsible for parental care in rodents will be presented. Finally, specific neuropeptide systems involved in anxiety and consolation behaviours, and their therapeutic use in psychopathologies, such as autism will be discussed.


Árpád Dobolyi
Hungarian Academy of Sciences


Larry J. Young
Emory University, USA
"Neurobiology underlying diversity in social behavior: Implications for autism"

Inga D. Neumann
University of Regensburg, Germany
"Neuropeptide interactions in the regulation of socio-emotional behaviour in health and psychopathology" 

Dóra Zelena
Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary
"Vasopressin as a social hormone: lessons from the first but still up-to-date mutant rodent model, the Brattleboro rat"

Árpád Dobolyi
Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary
"A systems biological approach to understand parental behaviour"


Understanding the neural bases of complex social behavior is a major challenge in neurosciences, and recent methodological advances are revolutionising this field. The symposium will present recent developments in socio-neuroscience by focusing on emerging topics. First, parental care will be introduced in evolutionary perspective as an excellent model system to understand cooperation between unrelated individuals. The extent of parental cooperation will be discussed based on sexual selection, social environment, and environmental harshness. Then, brain circuitry responsible for parental behaviours in rodents will be described. Recent breakthroughs identified specific neuronal populations in the hypothalamus whose control govern maternal behaviours. The types of these neurons, their neurochemical properties, neuronal connections and proposed physiological functions will be presented.  The brain, which governs the profound behaviour and emotional changes of mothers, may also undergo molecular alterations. Recent systems biological results aiming to reveal these alterations will also be presented. For example, Cryab, a heat-shock protein confirmed to be increased during maternal behaviours in the medial prefrontal cortex, was selectively found in parvalbumin cells, and its potential role in postpartum depression will be discussed.

Another field the symposium will focus on is social fear and anxiety.  Recently, neuropeptide S has generated substantial interest due to its anxiolytic and fear-attenuating effects in rodents, while a corresponding receptor polymorphism associated with increased neuropeptide S receptor surface expression and efficacy has been implicated in an increased risk of panic disorder in humans, on which recent advances will be presented.

Next, the symposium will describe consolation behaviour toward distressed others, which is common in humans and great apes, yet our ability to explore the biological mechanisms underlying this behaviour is limited by its apparent absence in laboratory animals. Novel evidence will be provided that a rodent species, the highly social and monogamous prairie vole greatly increases partner-directed grooming toward familiar conspecifics that have experienced stress, providing social buffering. Prairie voles also match the fear response, anxiety-related behaviours, and corticosterone increase of the stressed cagemate, suggesting an empathy mechanism. Exposure to the stressed cagemate increases activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, and oxytocin receptor antagonist infused into this region abolishes the partner-directed response, showing conserved neural mechanisms between prairie vole and human. Based on these and other data regarding the role of the neuropeptide oxytocin as a profound anxiolytic and anti-stress factor, its potential long-term therapeutic use for the treatment of psychopathologies, autism in particular, will be discussed.