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Front Neuroendocrinol. 2009 Oct;30(4):483-96. doi: 10.1016/j.yfrne.2009.04.012. Epub 2009 May 4.

The advantage of social living: brain neuropeptides mediate the beneficial consequences of sex and motherhood.

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Department of Behavioural and Molecular Neuroendocrinology, University of Regensburg, 93040 Regensburg, Germany.


Living in social groups is clearly beneficial for many species, often resulting in increased survival, enhanced fitness of the group, and progression of brain development and cognitive abilities. The development of the social brain has been promoted on the basis (i) of activation of reward centres by social stimuli, (ii) of positive consequences of close social interactions on emotionality (which is reinforcing by itself) and on general fitness, and (iii) of negative health consequences in the absence or as a result of sudden interruption of social interactions. For example, social interactions as seen between mother and child or between mating partners have beneficial effects on the mental and physical health state, in particular on adaptive processes related to emotional and physiological stress coping in both sexes. Here, the neurobiological basis of social behaviour, in particular the involvement of the brain neuropeptides, oxytocin and prolactin, in mediating such positive health effects will be discussed.

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