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Front Neuroendocrinol. 2011 Aug;32(3):320-35. doi: 10.1016/j.yfrne.2010.12.004. Epub 2010 Dec 14.

Genes, hormones, and circuits: an integrative approach to study the evolution of social behavior.

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Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Section of Integrative Biology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78705, USA.


Tremendous progress has been made in our understanding of the ultimate and proximate mechanisms underlying social behavior, yet an integrative evolutionary analysis of its underpinnings has been difficult. In this review, we propose that modern genomic approaches can facilitate such studies by integrating four approaches to brain and behavior studies: (1) animals face many challenges and opportunities that are ecologically and socially equivalent across species; (2) they respond with species-specific, yet quantifiable and comparable approach and avoidance behaviors; (3) these behaviors in turn are regulated by gene modules and neurochemical codes; and (4) these behaviors are governed by brain circuits such as the mesolimbic reward system and the social behavior network. For each approach, we discuss genomic and other studies that have shed light on various aspects of social behavior and its underpinnings and suggest promising avenues for future research into the evolution of neuroethological systems.

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