Gating of social reward by oxytocin in the ventral tegmental area

Lin W. Hung, Sophie Neuner, Jai S. Polepalli, Kevin T. Beier, Matthew Wright, Jessica J. Walsh, Eastman M. Lewis, Liqun Luo, Karl Deisseroth, Gül Dölen, Robert C. Malenka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The reward generated by social interactions is critical for promoting prosocial behaviors. Here we present evidence that oxytocin (OXT) release in the ventral tegmental area (VTA), a key node of the brain’s reward circuitry, is necessary to elicit social reward. During social interactions, activity in paraventricular nucleus (PVN) OXT neurons increased. Direct activation of these neurons in the PVN or their terminals in the VTA enhanced prosocial behaviors. Conversely, inhibition of PVN OXT axon terminals in the VTA decreased social interactions. OXT increased excitatory drive onto reward-specific VTA dopamine (DA) neurons. These results demonstrate that OXT promotes prosocial behavior through direct effects on VTA DA neurons, thus providing mechanistic insight into how social interactions can generate rewarding experiences.

LanguageEnglish (US)
Pages1406-1411
Number of pages6
JournalScience
Volume357
Issue number6358
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 29 2017

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Ventral Tegmental Area
Oxytocin
Reward
Interpersonal Relations
Paraventricular Hypothalamic Nucleus
Dopaminergic Neurons
Neurons
Presynaptic Terminals
Brain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this

Hung, L. W., Neuner, S., Polepalli, J. S., Beier, K. T., Wright, M., Walsh, J. J., ... Malenka, R. C. (2017). Gating of social reward by oxytocin in the ventral tegmental area. Science, 357(6358), 1406-1411. DOI: 10.1126/science.aan4994

Gating of social reward by oxytocin in the ventral tegmental area. / Hung, Lin W.; Neuner, Sophie; Polepalli, Jai S.; Beier, Kevin T.; Wright, Matthew; Walsh, Jessica J.; Lewis, Eastman M.; Luo, Liqun; Deisseroth, Karl; Dölen, Gül; Malenka, Robert C.

In: Science, Vol. 357, No. 6358, 29.09.2017, p. 1406-1411.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Hung, LW, Neuner, S, Polepalli, JS, Beier, KT, Wright, M, Walsh, JJ, Lewis, EM, Luo, L, Deisseroth, K, Dölen, G & Malenka, RC 2017, 'Gating of social reward by oxytocin in the ventral tegmental area' Science, vol. 357, no. 6358, pp. 1406-1411. DOI: 10.1126/science.aan4994
Hung LW, Neuner S, Polepalli JS, Beier KT, Wright M, Walsh JJ et al. Gating of social reward by oxytocin in the ventral tegmental area. Science. 2017 Sep 29;357(6358):1406-1411. Available from, DOI: 10.1126/science.aan4994
Hung, Lin W. ; Neuner, Sophie ; Polepalli, Jai S. ; Beier, Kevin T. ; Wright, Matthew ; Walsh, Jessica J. ; Lewis, Eastman M. ; Luo, Liqun ; Deisseroth, Karl ; Dölen, Gül ; Malenka, Robert C./ Gating of social reward by oxytocin in the ventral tegmental area. In: Science. 2017 ; Vol. 357, No. 6358. pp. 1406-1411
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