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Anatomy and neurochemistry of the pair bond

Authors

  • Larry J. Young,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia 30329
    2. Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia 30329
    • Yerkes Primate Center, Emory University, 954 Gatewood Dr., Atlanta, GA 30329
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  • Anne Z. Murphy Young,

    1. Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, Department of Biology, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia 30302
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  • Elizabeth A.D. Hammock

    1. Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia 30329
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Abstract

Studies in monogamous rodents have begun to elucidate the neural circuitry underlying the formation and maintenance of selective pair bonds between mates. This research suggests that at least three distinct, yet interconnected, neural pathways interact in the establishment of the pair bond. These include circuits involved in conveying somatosensory information from the genitalia to the brain during sexual activity, the mesolimbic dopamine circuits of reward and reinforcement, and neuropeptidergic circuits involved specifically in the processing of socially salient cues. Here we present an integrated description of the interaction of these circuits in a model of pair bond formation in rodents with a discussion of the implications of these findings for evolution, individual variation, and human bonding. J. Comp. Neurol. 493:51–57, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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