Project 2 - Neural Representation of Social Stimuli: Non human primates
Hallmarks of social competence include the adequate use of eye contact, facial expressions, and other communicative signals. These signals are readily understood by all members of a social group and serve to form lasting bonds, establish trust, maintain hierarchy, and convey threats. The ability to precisely decode and produce these social signals is so important that social primates evolved specializations of the brain dedicated to the coordination of social behavior. Deficits in decoding or emitting social signals render an individual isolated and alienated.
The contribution of this project to the goals of the center is to determine the effects of oxytocin on the neural underpinnings of social behavior in the monkey amygdala. The central hypothesis of this project is that oxytocin facilitates prosocial behavior and enhances neuronal activity in the amygdala related to the processing of social information.