Oxytocin and social cognition in rhesus macaques: implications for understanding and treating human psychopathology.
Converging evidence from humans and non-human animals indicates that the neurohypophysial hormone oxytocin (OT) evolved to serve a specialized function in social behavior in mammals. Although OT-based therapies are currently being evaluated as remedies for social deficits in neuropsychiatric disorders, precisely how OT regulates complex social processes remains largely unknown. Here we describe how a non-human primate model can be used to understand the mechanisms by which OT regulates social cognition and thereby inform its clinical application in humans. We focus primarily on recent advances in our understanding of OT-mediated social cognition in rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta), supplemented by discussion of recent work in humans, other primates, and rodents. Together, these studies endorse the hypothesis that OT promotes social exploration both by amplifying social motivation and by attenuating social vigilance. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Oxytocin and Social Behav.
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