Circuit mechanisms underlying social motivation

Camilla Bellone
Geneva University Neurocentre
Group leader Synaptic brain dysfunctions

Abstract: The decision to approach or avoid a conspecific is fundamental for survival. Affiliative (prosocial) interactions favor approach behaviors, whileantagonistic (aggressive) contactstrigger avoidance. Here we ask how the brain encodes the valence of social interaction. We focused on the nucleus accumbens (NAc), a brain region implicated in social reward processing. We observed that social interactions activateD1-expressing medium spiny neurons (D1-MSNs)regardless of their valence. However, afferentD1-expressingneurons of the anterior insular cortex (AIC) exhibited distinct activity patterns coding for prosocial and aggressive social interaction, respectively. As a result, distinct forms of synaptic plasticity were elicited atthe AIC to NAc synapses. Thus, the valence ofsocial interaction induces distinct neural activity in the AIC, which teaches the animal to approach and avoid conspecifics in the future.

Invited by Thomas Marissal
Tuesday 28 March 2023 at 11 am in the conference room

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