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Science. 2016 Jan 22;351(6271):375-8. doi: 10.1126/science.aac4785.

Oxytocin-dependent consolation behavior in rodents.

Author information

1
Silvio O. Conte Center for Oxytocin and Social Cognition, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA. Center for Translational Social Neuroscience, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA. Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA. jpburke@emory.edu lyoun03@emory.edu.
2
Silvio O. Conte Center for Oxytocin and Social Cognition, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA. Center for Translational Social Neuroscience, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA. Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA.
3
Center for Translational Social Neuroscience, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA. Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA.
4
Center for Translational Social Neuroscience, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA. Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA. Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands.
5
Silvio O. Conte Center for Oxytocin and Social Cognition, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA. Center for Translational Social Neuroscience, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA. Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA. Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA. jpburke@emory.edu lyoun03@emory.edu.

Abstract

Consolation behavior toward distressed others is common in humans and great apes, yet our ability to explore the biological mechanisms underlying this behavior is limited by its apparent absence in laboratory animals. Here, we provide empirical evidence that a rodent species, the highly social and monogamous prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster), greatly increases partner-directed grooming toward familiar conspecifics (but not strangers) that have experienced an unobserved stressor, providing social buffering. Prairie voles also match the fear response, anxiety-related behaviors, 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.

PMID:
26798013
PMCID:
PMC4737486
DOI:
10.1126/science.aac4785
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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