Parallel social information processing circuits are differentially impacted in autism

November 2, 2021 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Gul Dolen, hosted by Anne West
dolen headshot

Duke Neurobiology welcomes Gul Dolen, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Dolen will present "Parallel social information processing circuits are differentially impacted in autism" live and on Zoom. Contact for connection details.
Abstract: Parallel processing circuits are thought to dramatically expand the network capabilities of the nervous system. Magnocellular and parvocellular oxytocin neurons have been proposed to subserve two parallel streams of social information processing, which allow a single molecule to encode a diverse array of ethologically distinct behaviors, although to date direct evidence to support this hypothesis is lacking. Here we provide the first comprehensive characterization of magnocellular and parvocellular oxytocin neurons, validated across anatomical, projection target, electrophysiological, and transcriptional criteria. We next used novel multiple feature selection tools in Fmr1 KO mice to provide direct evidence that normal functioning of the parvocellular but not magnocellular oxytocin pathway is required for autism relevant social reward behavior. Finally, we demonstrate that autism risk genes are uniquely enriched in parvocellular oxytocin neurons. Taken together these results provide the first evidence that oxytocin pathway specific pathogenic mechanisms account for social impairments across a broad range of autism etiologies.