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J Neurosci. 2016 Jun 29;36(26):7027-38. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4435-15.2016.

Lasting Adaptations in Social Behavior Produced by Social Disruption and Inhibition of Adult Neurogenesis.

Author information

1
Princeton Neuroscience Institute and.
2
Princeton Neuroscience Institute and Department of Psychology, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey 08540, and.
3
National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.
4
Princeton Neuroscience Institute and Department of Psychology, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey 08540, and goulde@princeton.edu.

Abstract

Research on social instability has focused on its detrimental consequences, but most people are resilient and respond by invoking various coping strategies. To investigate cellular processes underlying such strategies, a dominance hierarchy of rats was formed and then destabilized. Regardless of social position, rats from disrupted hierarchies had fewer new neurons in the hippocampus compared with rats from control cages and those from stable hierarchies. Social disruption produced a preference for familiar over novel conspecifics, a change that did not involve global memory impairments or increased anxiety. Using the neuropeptide oxytocin as a tool to increase neurogenesis in the hippocampus of disrupted rats restored preference for novel conspecifics to predisruption levels. Conversely, reducing the number of new neurons by limited inhibition of adult neurogenesis in naive transgenic GFAP-thymidine kinase rats resulted in social behavior similar to disrupted rats. Together, these results provide novel mechanistic evidence that social disruption shapes behavior in a potentially adaptive way, possibly by reducing adult neurogenesis in the hippocampus.

SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT:

To investigate cellular processes underlying adaptation to social instability, a dominance hierarchy of rats was formed and then destabilized. Regardless of social position, rats from disrupted hierarchies had fewer new neurons in the hippocampus compared with rats from control cages and those from stable hierarchies. Unexpectedly, these changes were accompanied by changes in social strategies without evidence of impairments in cognition or anxiety regulation. Restoring adult neurogenesis in disrupted rats using oxytocin and conditionally suppressing the production of new neurons in socially naive GFAP-thymidine kinase rats showed that loss of 6-week-old neurons may be responsible for adaptive changes in social behavior.

KEYWORDS:

GFAP-TK transgenic rats; dominance hierarchy; hippocampus; neurogenesis; oxytocin; social behavior

PMID:
27358459
PMCID:
PMC4926244
DOI:
10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4435-15.2016
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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