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The bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) is a sexually dimorphic, neuropeptide-rich node of the extended amygdala that has been implicated in responses to stress, drugs of abuse, and natural rewards. Its function is dysregulated in neuropsychiatric disorders that are characterized by stress- or drug-induced alterations in mood, arousal, motivation, and social behavior. However, compared to the BNST's role in mood, arousal, and motivation, its role in social behavior has remained relatively understudied. Moreover, the precise cell types and circuits underlying the BNST's role in social behavior have only recently begun to be explored using modern neuroscience techniques. Here, we systematically review the existing literature investigating the neurobiological substrates within the BNST that contribute to the coordination of various sex-dependent and sex-independent social behavioral repertoires, focusing largely on pharmacological and circuit-based behavioral studies in rodents. We suggest that the BNST coordinates social behavior by promoting appropriate assessment of social contexts to select relevant behavioral outputs and that disruption of socially relevant BNST systems by stress and drugs of abuse may be an important factor in the development of social dysfunction in neuropsychiatric disorders. © 2020 Federation of European Neuroscience Societies and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Meghan E Flanigan, Thomas L Kash. Coordination of social behaviors by the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis. The European journal of neuroscience. 2022 May;55(9-10):2404-2420

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PMID: 33006806

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