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Hormones and Behavior. Hormones Modulate Behavior Hormones Can Be Necessary for a Behavior A particular level of hormone in an animal does not insure a behavior will occur. A particular level of hormone does not have the same effect in every animal. Hormones. Environment. Nervous System.

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Hormones and behavior
Hormones and Behavior

  • Hormones Modulate Behavior

  • Hormones Can Be Necessary for a Behavior

    • A particular level of hormone in an animal does not insure a behavior will occur.

    • A particular level of hormone does not have the same effect in every animal.

Hormones and behavior



Nervous System

Social behavior and neuropeptides
Social Behavior and Neuropeptides

  • Oxytocin (OT) and Vasopressin (AVP)

  • Influence a number of social behaviors including

    • Pair bonding

    • Maternal behavior

    • Affiliative behaviors

    • Generosity (?)

    • Promiscuity (?)

  • Where do they come from and how do they affect the nervous system?

Hormones and behavior





Oxytocin and vasopressin neurons production
Oxytocin and Vasopressin Neurons - Production

  • Oxytocin and Vasopressin can be released directly circulation and directly into the brain

    • Peripheral versus Central release

  • OT and AVP receptors are localized in the limbic system

Oxytocin and vasopressin
Oxytocin and Vasopressin

  • Behavioral Effects

  • Animal Models – Prairie Vole

California mouse peromyscus californicus
California mouse (Peromyscus californicus)

Voles a comparative model
Voles: A Comparative Model

  • Voles: A Comparative Model

  • Prairie Voles

    • Biparental

    • Monogamous

      • Mating induces changes in the brain, partner preference

  • Meadow and Montane Voles

    • Uniparental

    • Polygynous

Hormones and behavior

Voles: A Comparative Model

  • Prairie Voles

  • OT – females

    • Facilitates maternal behaviors

    • Facilitates pair bond formations

  • AVP – males

    • Changes (cellular content/ immunoreactivity) with parental experience and cohabitation

    • Facilitates pair bond formations and parental experience

    • Site specific

  • Avp in the brain lateral septum with parental experience
    AVP in the Brain (Lateral Septum) withParental Experience

    Prairie and Meadow Voles

    Males and Females

    Parental or Naive

    Avp and prairie voles
    AVP and Prairie Voles

    • AVP and paternal responsiveness in male voles

    Vasopressin receptor v1a
    Vasopressin Receptor: V1a

    • Is the V1a receptor necessary for social behaviors?

    Prairie Voles

    Avp receptor pattern
    AVP Receptor Pattern

    • Vasopressin Receptor Distribution varies between Prairie and Montane Voles.

    • Montane pattern is more “typical” of other rodent species, perhaps other mammals.

    Vasopressin receptor v1a1
    Vasopressin Receptor, V1a



    Staining (Autoradiography)

    for Vasopressin Receptor

    Vasopressin receptor v1a2
    Vasopressin Receptor V1a

    • What happens if you experimentally make a mouse brain like a vole brain for AVP?

    Prairie Voles


    Oxytocin and vasopressin in humans
    Oxytocin and Vasopressin in Humans

    • Several recent studies have begun to show similar roles for these neuropeptides in human behavior

    • Limbic system – evolutionary conservation


    • Gene sequences on alleles may predict behavior

    • AVPR1a – Gene that codes for vasopressin receptor

      • Longer alleles (repeat of sequence) more monogamous behavior – voles

      • Similar sequence may predict success of opposite success relationships in humans (Walum et al., 2008)

      • Altruistic behavior – more money is given to other participant

    Vasopressin and social behavior
    Vasopressin and Social Behavior

    • Intranasal Vasopressin in Men

      • Stimulates antagonist facial motor patterns to unfamiliar faces, decreases perception of friendliness

    • Intranasal Vasopressin in Women

      • Stimulates affiliative facial motor patters and increases perception of friendliness

    Oxytocin and social behaviors
    Oxytocin and Social Behaviors

    • Oxytocin can be released during social interactions

      • pair bonding and sex

      • mother – infant bonding

        • Birth – uterine contractions

        • Suckling - lactation

    • Oxytocin is measured in the blood

    • Oxytocin is also likely released in the brain

    Oxytocin and trust
    Oxytocin and Trust

    • Oxytocin can influence Trust

      • Trust game and monetary exchanges

      • Oxytocin levels are higher when individuals perceive intentional trust.

      • Oxytocin ‘correlates’ with level of perceived trust

      • Pre- and post- measures

      • Correlation versus causation

    Oxytocin and trust1
    Oxytocin and Trust

    Fig. 2. OT levels and standards errors for DM2s with and without an

    intention to trust. In the Intention condition, DM1s voluntarily transfer

    money to DM2s. In the Random Draw condition, the transfer from DM1s to

    DM2s was determined by a public draw of a numbered ball. OT levels

    across conditions are statistically different at P < 0.05.

    P.J. Zak et al. / Hormones and Behavior 48 (2005) 522–527

    Oxytocin and trust2
    Oxytocin and Trust

    • Intranasal oxytocin can influence generosity/ trust

    • Intranasal OT and neural sites

    Oxytocin and trust3
    Oxytocin and Trust

    Figure 2 | Transfers in the trust and the risk experiment. Each observation

    represents the average transfer amount (in MU) over four transfer decisions

    per investor. a, Relative frequency of investors’ average transfers in oxytocin

    (filled bars) and placebo (open bars) groups in the trust experiment

    (n ¼ 58). Subjects given oxytocin show significantly higher transfer levels.

    Oxytocin and trust4
    Oxytocin and Trust

    • Intranasal OT increases perception of facial attractiveness, and trustworthiness


    • Gene sequences on alleles may predict behavior

    • OXTR

      • Specific sequence may predict altruistic behavior and higher social values orientation

    Ot avp implications
    OT/AVP Implications

    • Patterns in the AVP and OT receptor gene sequence may predict autism spectrum disorders.

    • AVP and OT operate in similar ways in all vertebrates that have been studied.

    • A mechanism for empathy in humans?